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PSNI and Crimestoppers Launch New Campaign Targeting Predatory Money Lending in Northern Ireland

PSNI and Crimestoppers Launch New Campaign Targeting Predatory Money Lending in Northern Ireland

### New Campaign Targets Predatory Money Lending in Northern Ireland


A comprehensive new campaign targeting the predatory practice of money lending by paramilitaries and organized crime groups has been launched across Northern Ireland. This initiative, spearheaded by the charity Crimestoppers, is supported by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), the Executive Programme on Paramilitarism and Organised Crime, and Advice NI.


The four-week campaign aims to highlight the harsh realities of predatory money lending. Through social media and radio advertising, the campaign will encourage communities to speak out against these exploitative practices.


Superintendent Joanne Gibson, Service Lead for Strategic Partnerships, Prevention & Community Engagement, explained: "Predatory money lenders exploit and intimidate vulnerable individuals, especially in tough economic times. These criminals falsely present themselves as helpers, but their intent is to trap people in debt with hefty interest rates and threats of violence. Victims and their loved ones often face extreme exploitation, including being forced into illegal activities or sexual exploitation."


The ongoing public awareness campaign, "Ending the Harm," has already made significant strides in bringing these hidden harms to light. Superintendent Gibson emphasized the need to build on this success and urged people to contact the police or Crimestoppers with any information that could help bring these criminals to justice.


Mick Duthie, Director of Operations at Crimestoppers, highlighted the role of anonymity in encouraging people to report predatory lending: "Our charity ensures complete anonymity for anyone who contacts us. This allows individuals to speak up without fear, helping to dismantle the operations of those profiting from the most vulnerable."


Detective Superintendent Avine Kelly from the Organised Crime Branch reiterated the PSNI's commitment to prosecuting predatory lenders: "Whether these criminals are individuals, organized crime groups, or paramilitary groups, their activities are illegal. We are determined to bring them to justice and to confiscate their ill-gotten assets. Importantly, we can secure convictions without victim cooperation, ensuring safety and support for those affected."


Bob Stronge, Chief Executive of Advice NI, noted an increase in calls to their debt advice helpline amid the cost-of-living crisis. He urged those in financial distress to seek help through their free helpline, where trained experts can provide confidential advice and support.


The Executive's "Ending the Harm" campaign continues to raise public awareness, driven by the Northern Ireland Executive Programme to Tackle Paramilitary Activity. The collaboration between PSNI, Crimestoppers, Advice NI, and other partners aims to expose and eradicate the toxic harms of predatory money lending in Northern Ireland.

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