Touring theatre show to highlight criminality

The issues of illegal money lending and arson are being highlighted in a touring performance, heading to local schools.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team are working in partnership with Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin Trading Standards, Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service and Zip Theatre to deliver the production ‘Sparx’, by Jon Lingard-Lane, which is partly funded using proceeds of crime money taken from convicted loan sharks.

The performance highlights both issues, and the links between them. Loan sharks often resort to extreme methods to enforce their debt and the England Illegal Money Lending Team have seen cases where threats of arson have been made towards victims.

As covered recently in ‘Coronation Street’, when the characters Terry and Tommy Duckworth intended to burn down their club to claim on the insurance, because they owed money to a loan shark, victims have also been forced to resort to other criminality.

The play will highlight the fact that help is available for loan shark victims and they don’t have to suffer, whilst highlighting the dangers and consequences of Arson. The tour began this week and will visit 10 primary schools in the Shropshire and Telford areas.

Derek Taylor from Shropshire Fire and Rescue Risk Reduction Team said” Arson is an issue for SFRS we had over 1100 deliberate fires last year. This is an example of how we can work together with partner agencies to reduce arson in Shropshire.

Arson causes distress to victims and results in an average week in England 350 deliberately set fires, 38 injuries and 1 to 2 deaths. Commercial fires cost £865m per year.”

Tony Quigley Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said “ Loan sharks are a scourge on our communities and cause nothing but fear and misery for their victims. We’ve seen loan sharks resort to the most extreme methods including threats, violence and even criminal damage to enforce repayment. We would urge anyone who is the victim of a loan shark , or knows of someone who is to contact us in confidence on 0300 555 2222”

Councillor Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council Cabinet member for public protection, said: “It’s really important that people are aware of the dangers posed by loan sharks, and these plays are a really effective way of connecting with youngsters, and letting them know that there is help available. This kind of initiative could make a real difference to a family in trouble.”

Cllr Hilda Rhodes,Telford and Wrekin Council cabinet member for transport and community protection, said: “Nationally illegal money lending is a problem and this is great way to help get the message across and help stop this practice.

“I would urge any who is unsure or worried about illegal money lending to contact the confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222. Rather than turn to loan sharks people should consider at reputable alternatives such local credit unions that can offer people, who banks might turn away, low cost loans.”

Nationally the Stop Loan Shark Project has secured over 210 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to 125 years worth of custodial sentences. They have written off almost £40 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 18,000 victims.

25th May, 2012