The Police Service of Northern Ireland is supporting the ‘Ending the Harm’ campaign launched today which aims to raise awareness of the devastating impact that illegal money lenders have on the wider community.
The “Ending the Harm” campaign, which is part of the Tackling Paramilitarism Programme, is aimed at highlighting the harm caused by paramilitary gangs, directly addressing the ‘societal shrug’ towards some paramilitary gang practices and this campaign represents another iteration of that.
Speaking at today’s launch Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton said: “This campaign highlights the devastating impact that illegal money lenders have, not only on victims, but their families, the local community and wider society.
"The people who purport to be helping people by offering them loans when they feel they have nowhere else to turn are not doing it for nothing. They will always want something in return – and I don’t just mean a hefty interest rate. In the long run they will want more than their money back. They will charge you exorbitant interest rates and set unrealistic pay back targets. They will tell you that you are in their debt forever, they will threaten you and coerce you into getting involved in their criminal world, for example, they may tell you that you have to peddle their drugs for them, or ‘handle’ criminal property.
“My message is simple. Policing works for communities, particularly for those communities that engage and work with us. We are targeting the groups and individuals we suspect are responsible for exploiting the most vulnerable in our community.
“There are obvious difficulties in getting victims of illegal money lenders to come forward due to fear but the Police are far from powerless when it comes to dealing with these people who are exploiting their own communities.
"Ultimately we all have a role to play in creating a safer society and ending the harm caused by these criminals.
“If you are in debt and feel you have nowhere to go please know that there is independent help available, Advice NI, which is an independent charity, offers confidential advice to anyone who finds themselves in this situation. For totally independent advice you can contact Advice NI on 0800 915 4604.”
Visit www.endingtheharm.com for more information, real-life stories and details of where to go for help and support.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland is appealing for anyone who witnessed the incident or anyone with any information that will assist the investigation to contact us on the non-emergency number 101. Information can also be passed anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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