Offenders and single mothers in Leeds could be particularly at risk from loan sharks, a report suggests.
Leeds City Council chiefs were briefed on the “considerable success” of the Illegal Money Lending Team at a meeting today, but the extent of the problem was also revealed.
A document for the authority’s executive board outlining “key progress” said: “Work has been undertaken with the West Yorkshire Police crime prevention team to begin to scope the problem of illegal lending further in the region.
“Initial anonymous interviews with a number of prisoners at HMP Leeds prison hub suggested that illegal lending was prevalent in many deprived communities with single mothers particularly at risk.
“Further investigation on this and the effects of lending in prisons, to prisoners upon release and their families is being funded by Proceeds of Crime Money.”
Offenders charity Uservoice started this work in February.
Members of the board were today told details of a case featuring a 62-year-old Leeds woman who had been lent money and threatened by a man who frequented casinos in Leeds. He received 38 months in prison and Proceeds of Crime order.
They were also told about a Leeds couple, who were prosecuted, after making a “significant profit” from lending to migrant workers particularly in the care and nursing sectors.
And one project, using Proceeds of Crime money, involves a new Credit Union savings scheme which offers council housing tenants in Leeds a cash boost in time for Christmas. The report said: “In a bid to prevent the use of illegal money lenders, the first 100 Housing Leeds tenants to join Leeds Credit Union and save regularly between now and November will receive a £25 boost to their savings.”