New figures from National Trading Standards reveal that 108 loan sharks were arrested in England and Wales in the past year. The figures are revealed in the agency’s annual report which shows the activity of Trading Standards’ Illegal Money Lending Teams (IMLTs).
Along with prosecuting criminals, the IMLTs support victims and witnesses, offering support and advice as well as referrals to credit unions, housing, debt advice, and mental health services. The IMLTs also run the Stop Loan Sharks project. IMLTs provided support to more than 1,650 victims and helped save a combined total of over £10m. The teams also seized just over £480,000 in cash.
The IMLTs have commented that the biggest potential threat to their work is a combined effect of the introduction of the Universal Credit single benefit, and the cap on pay day loans. Tony Quigley of NTS Illegal Money Lending Team said: “As people get used to budgeting under the new system and find it harder to access legitimate short-term loans, we expect many to be tempted into the arms of the sharks.”