A MAN and two women have been arrested as part of a national campaign targeting loan sharks.

Police officers raided two properties in Spennymoor, County Durham, and seized cash and documents.

A man aged 45 and two females, aged 44 and 47, were arrested and have been released on police bail until Wednesday, May 21 while enquiries continue.

The operation was carried out last Wednesday and was part of a national campaign being run by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) to tackle the problem of loan sharks. Details of the arrests were released today (Monday, February 3).

Detective Inspector Lyn Peart, of Durham Police, said “This is another great example of how the IMLT, partnership agencies and the police are working together to tackle illegally money lending.

“I hope this demonstrates that this activity will not be tolerated and along with our partners we will be relentless in our campaign to stop those involved in it.

“I would like to appeal to anyone who has been approached by loan sharks to contact the IMLT with any information provided will be treated seriously.”

The IMLT team collates information provided by its partners including Durham County Council and the police to detect criminals.

Joanne Waller, the county council’s head of environment, health and consumer protection, said “We welcome this latest action.

“We will continue to support the work of the IMLT as well as our partners and communities to raise awareness of the harm caused by loan sharks.

“We would urge everyone to remember that no matter how much you are struggling financially, loan sharks are not the answer.

“It could result in years of harassment, possible threats of violence and paying back your loan several times over.”

The IMLT has several operations currently running across the North-East, including in Gateshead and Durham, targeting illegal lenders.

Statistics released by the IMLT show that 310,000 people nationally are in debt to loan sharks.

The team has secured more than 300 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity which has led to more than 190 years worth of jail sentences.

The IMLT has also written off £42m worth of illegal debt and it has helped over 23,000 victims.

To report loan sharks contact the IMLT on 0300-555-2222, text loan shark and a message to 60003 or email reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk