Thursday, 1 February 2007

Government to roll out anti-loan shark pilots

The Government has announced that it is to roll out its pilots against illegal moneylending and will achieve nationwide coverage by the end of 2008.

Commenting on the roll out of the project, the Minister responsible for financial inclusion, Ed Balls, said:

"Loan sharks are a blight on some of the least well off communities, and so I am pleased to see the success we are already having in tackling these criminals and helping their victims. Today's announcement will bring help to more victims nationwide while also sending a further warning that these illegal and unacceptable practices will not be tolerated."

Over the last two years, two pilots have been operating in Birmingham and Glasgow and research in December 2006 revealed that illegal loan sharks frequently resort to intimidation and threats of violence to extort large sums of money in return. The pilot teams have had some success in bringing prosecutions, but this is often hampered by the fact that there is no specific offence of usury or Illegal money-lending and the teams have to draw on a number of disparate pieces of legislation to bring a case. The roll out will bring the approach to Sheffield, Leeds/Bradford, and Liverpool later this year and the Treasury is provide for national coverage by the end of 2008 by establishing regional bases. The precise locations of the bases has not been announced.

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