A NUMBER of public sector organisations recently came together to brush up on their knowledge of loan sharks and ways to recognise and help customers affected by them.

Representatives from organisations including Redditch Council, West Mercia Police, Jestaminute Community Theatre, BDHT and Where Next Association, attended loan shark awareness training sessions at Redditch Police Station.

Attendees were taught ways in which to identify illegal money lending issues and what to do to help individuals and families struggling with this. The majority of organisations in attendance provide frontline services and so can use transferrable skills learnt in the session to directly assist residents.

Councillor Rebecca Blake, who has responsibility for community safety, said: “Loan sharks are known to use intimidation, criminal damage and violence to enforce debts. They cause real harm and often to the most vulnerable.

"I am pleased to see local agencies working together to develop the skills and knowledge needed to help loan shark victims effectively.”

Councillor Pattie Hill, who attended the recent training, said: “Across the country it is known that many victims of loan sharks are reluctant to come forward.

"The training session was excellent and has helped me and the other delegates to recognise the symptoms and effects of illegal money lending and give advice to people who may be affected.”

Often people affected by loan sharks approach the authorities for unrelated reasons. Public sector workers are being offered training to see the warning signs of illegal money lending to help people in this situation.

The ‘report a loan shark’ team can be contacted 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling 0300 555 2222, emailing or by texting loan(space)shark(space) + the message to 60003.