Fight against loan sharks stepped up
Loan sharks face a fresh Government crackdown as efforts to tackle illegal money lenders who often subject borrowers to threats and violence are stepped up.
The Treasury said more than £5.5 million will be spent to fund the fight against loan sharks, helping to investigate and prosecute illegal lenders, and support their victims.
And £100,000 of money already seized from loan sharks will also be spent to encourage people in England at risk of being targeted by loan sharks to join a credit union.
In total, £5.67 million of funding will be provided to Britain's Illegal Money Lending Teams (IMLT) and bodies in Northern Ireland to tackle illegal lending - a 16% increase compared to the previous year.
More than 300,000 people are in debt to illegal money lenders in Britain, the Government said.
John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said: "These nasty lenders are nothing more than lowlife crooks taking hard-earned cash from the pockets of the most vulnerable."
Tony Quigley, head of the England IMLT, said: "Loan sharks are a blight on society and prey on vulnerable people who struggle to make ends meet.
"These criminals use callous methods to enforce repayment and victims are often subjected to threats, intimidation and violence.
"We will not tolerate this sort of criminal activity in our country and loan sharks who are caught flouting the law will be pursued and prosecuted."