The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) are putting proceeds of crime money to good use with grants to worthy community groups.
The national team, who investigate and prosecute loan sharks, are encouraging community groups to bid for grants of up to £5,000.
This available money, which has been confiscated from convicted loan sharks through the Proceeds of Crime Act (2002), is being used to fund local community projects which raise awareness of illegal money lending.
The IMLT will vote on which applicants will be granted the funding to support their community project. The aim of this national scheme is to see the illegal earnings convicted loan sharks have made, used wisely, to benefit key areas and reinvest the money back into local communities.
Applicants are welcome to bid for the cash to spend on any worthwhile community project which does at least one of the following:
- Contributes to raising awareness of the dangers of using loan sharks
- Prevents crime and disorder and publicises the Stop Loan Sharks message
- Promotes the work of the Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) in communities
- Encourages reporting of loan sharks
Loan sharks often trap borrowers into spiralling debt by charging astronomical rates of interest and arbitrary extra charges. In some cases, loan sharks have been known to resort to bullying tactics such as intimidation, threats and even violence to enforce repayment amongst borrowers.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said:
“It is fundamental that schemes like this take place, illegal money lenders are a scourge on our communities and can have a huge detrimental impact on the lives of victims living in the area.
“Through schemes such as this, we are able to put their unlawful earnings back in to the community they once targeted. This money will help fund something positive and we encourage all local groups to participate. We would also urge victims of illegal money lenders to contact us in confidence on 0300 555 2222. All calls are strictly confidential and you will be offered welfare support while we build a case against the loan shark.”
Examples of previous projects which have been funded using proceeds of crime money include:
- Local drama production to warn residents about the dangers of loan sharks
- Loan shark ‘takeover’ across a local radio station
- A community sofa which was created using different fabrics and featured various loan shark warning messages
- Stop Loan Sharks mural in a local school
- A loan shark prevention badge created by a Girl Guides group
Groups can apply for up to a maximum of £5,000 per project idea. Applicants can submit more than one project idea.
For more information about this funding scheme and to receive an electronic application form, please contact LIAISE Manager Dave Benbow on David.A.Benbow@birmingham.gov.uk
The closing date for applications is Saturday 30th June 2018.
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 382 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 328 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £73.7 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 28,000 people.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text a report to 078600 22116
Visit the website www.stoploansharks.co.uk
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject