A CAMPAIGN to alert families to the dangers of loan sharks has been launched in Burnley.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team, in partnership with Lancashire County Council (LCC) and Burney Council, are behind the scheme which aims to make youngsters more aware of the damage loan sharks can inflict on communities.

Pupils at Barden Primary School, in Barden Lane, are among those visited by the campaign’s mascot, Sid the Shark.

The project, also supported by Burnley Faith Centre, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and Calico Homes, saw children perform a play entitled ‘A Loan in Burnley’ at Burnley Campus to demonstrate the impact of criminal activity.

County Councillor Albert Atkinson, cabinet member responsible for trading standards at LCC, said he hoped kids would share what they learnt with their families.

Coun Atkinson said: “I very much welcome this imaginative initiative. By working in partnership with the Illegal Money Lending Team and other organisations, we will raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing money from loan sharks.

“The loan sharks will not be tolerated within Lancashire and the week of action is part of an overall strategic approach to tackling illegal money lending and the related serious criminality.

“My advice to anyone in Burnley who needs to borrow money, or who is experiencing financial difficulties, is to approach legitimate sources of help like credit unions.”

Tony Quigley, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Illegal money lending is a despicable crime which causes nothing but harm to our communities.

“These lenders may appear to be offering a community service but borrowers are often forced to pay back far and above what they have borrowed and can afford.

“Many are subjected to threats, violence or other callous enforcement methods. We would urge anyone who has been the victim of a loan shark to report them in confidence.”