East End team tackling loan sharks is commended

A TEAM which has been cracking down on callous loan sharks in the capital has been praised for their teamwork.

The London Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Team, based at Tower Hamlets Town Hall at Mulberry Place has won the ‘Public Sector Partnership Category’ at the 2010 Third Sector Excellence Awards.

The award highlights the partnership between Tower Hamlets council and partners Tonybee Hall, based in Whitechapel.

The team, which investigates and prosecute unlicensed lenders, has put criminal lenders behind bars and been able to give victims the support and advice they need since its launch in 2008.

The partnership between Tower Hamlets Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Team Investigators and Toynbee Hall Financial Inclusion Support Service enables investigators to refer the victims of loan sharks to a team which supports them with debt issues, housing needs, recovery from substance misuse, health and mental wellbeing.

They help break the link with the need to use illegal money lenders and to help the client access alternative affordable means of credit in the future.

Peter Richardson Head of the London Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Team said: “This award commends all our staff, for their efforts in the fight against loan sharks.

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“Unlicensed lenders can have a hugely detrimental impact on our communities, trapping vulnerable people in a spiral of debt and resorting to the most extreme methods to claim back their illegal loans.

“Yet through this partnership we are helping support the victims of loan sharks and changing lives across the city.

In the last two years, the London Trading Standards illegal money lending team have identified more than 120 unlicensed lenders and supported over 1,200 victims.

Help and information about loan sharks is available form the confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222.