Page last updated at 16:02 GMT, Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Police raids target loan sharks

Notebook found during police raid
Police found a notebook documenting the alleged loans

Police in Bristol have raided two houses on an estate in north Bristol as part of a clampdown on loan sharks.

The South West Illegal Money Lending Team and the police arrested three people, including a 77-year-old woman, in the early morning raid in Horfield.

It is claimed victims gave benefit payments directly to a loan shark, who then gave them 50 a week back in "pocket money".

Investigating officers found a notebook documenting the alleged loans.

'Criminal lifestyle'

The government claims loan sharks are making illegal loans to 165,000 households across the country.

The Illegal Money Lending Team said victims were almost always single parents who could not borrow from banks.

Alan Evans, from the organisation, said: "Once you're hooked, you are there for life.

"They won't just draw you into the criminal lifestyle but they will take over your life and the lives of your children."

His colleague Wendy Loades said: "One of my victims could have borrowed 2,000 five years ago [and] has now paid back 15,000, that's the sort of scale we're looking at."

The Illegal Money Lending Team is led by Bristol City Council Trading Standards and covers the whole of the South West.

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Bristol Evening Post Three held in swoop on loan sharks - 8 hrs ago
Bristol Evening Post Three held in swoop on loan-sharking - 14 hrs ago

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