A campaign to raise awareness of the perils of using loan sharks in Runcorn, Halton, has won a national award.

Operation Gripped, a three-way partnership, received this year’s prestigious Outstanding Trading Standards Initiative Hero Award from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI).

Runcorn Policing Team has been working alongside Halton Council Trading Standards and The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) to educate communities about the risks of illegal money lending and highlight safer borrowing methods to help prevent the use of loan sharks.

In a short space of time successes have included the Spot the Shark social media competition that reached over 64K, Christmas card design competition across local schools and produced a profile raising, imaginative Lego animation.

Halton Borough Council’s Executive Board Member for Trading Standards, Cllr Dave Cargill, said: “This shows what can be achieved by partnership working. Well done to all concerned and a big thank you for all of those warned off loan sharks by the campaign”

The CTSI Hero Awards celebrate those who make outstanding contributions towards consumer protection in our communities.

Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Loan sharks cause untold misery to the most disadvantaged in our communities.

“I’m really pleased this campaign has received national recognition as it is an excellent example of how partners are working together to keep vulnerable members of the community safe and educate them against falling victim to unscrupulous lenders.”

Watch the Lego Stop Loan Sharks animation produced by Sandymoor High School students here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhUO2xkriZ4

To report a loan shark call the 24 hour hotline 0300 555 2222, text a report to 078600 22116 or visit www.stoploansharks.co.uk.

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