Wales Heads of Trading Standards

Improving Trading Standards in Wales

Penaethiaid Safonau Masnach Cymru Yn Gwella Safonau Masnach Yng Nghymru

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Loan shark team

In 2004 the UK Government established pilot schemes in Birmingham and Glasgow as part of the Financial Inclusion agenda, to target ‘loan sharks’. The pilots were successful and as a result the scheme was expanded.

The Welsh Illegal Moneylending Unit (WIMLU) was set up towards the end of 2007 and is now one of nine regional Trading Standards led teams across Wales, Scotland and England, funded by the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR).

The key aims and objectives are:

  • To increase awareness of the problem of illegal lending amongst partner agencies and providers of affordable credit.
  • To impact upon illegal money lending, with more prosecutions, to reduce the instances of illegal money lending.
  • To create a climate where victims can come forward, confident that a prosecution will be undertaken, and convictions obtained without fear of reprisals.
  • To change the perception amongst those lending that IML is rarely prosecuted.
  • To develop formal relationships and processes for referring victims to local debt advisors, sources of legal affordable credit or other sources of support, and to record these referrals.
  • To develop an understanding of the victims needs in the medium to long term and the interventions required for a sustained move away from illegal lending.
  • To develop links with Financial Inclusion Fund projects particularly the ‘Now Let’s Talk Money’ campaign.

A team of ten specialist staff have been employed from a variety of specialist surveillance and financial investigation backgrounds, including Trading Standards, ex-police officers and a specialist Client Liaison Officer (Financial Inclusion & witness/victim support).

The Unit and 24 hour hotline was officially launched on the 25th February 2008 at the Welsh Assembly Government Building, Merthyr Tydfil.

The team are already conducting Operations across Wales and are supporting victims of loan sharks towards financial inclusion schemes and welfare support. The perpetrators range from small time loan sharks to violent and organised criminals operating within Welsh communities.

South Wales Police have agreed to support the WIMLU with a seconded police officer to the investigation team.

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