Anti-loan shark scheme pioneered in city

Police outside student accommodation in Stanhope Road, Portsmouth on Friday Picture Ben Fishwick

Man arrested in Portsmouth explosives probe at Stanhope Road student block is released by police

JOBCENTRE staff trained in Portsmouth have been leading the fight against loan sharks.

It's estimated that around 310,000 households nationally borrow money from illegal loan sharks, who can charge interest rates as high as 131,000 per cent.

Now staff at Jobcentres across the UK are being trained in how to spot signs of illegal money lending activity - after the scheme was pioneered in Portsmouth.

Meanwhile, the government has given regional Illegal Money Lending and Scambuster teams run by Trading Standards, 5.2m and 3.2m respectively to combat loan sharks.

Tony Quigley, head of the trading standards illegal money lending team, said: 'Once loan sharks have trapped their victims in a spiral of debt they will resort to any methods, including threats and violence, to reclaim their cash. We've even heard reports of loan sharks waiting for claimants outside Jobcentre Plus offices, so it's important we do all we can to help protect vulnerable people.'

To report a loan shark call 0300 555 2222.