Watch: TV commercials highlight dangers of illegal money lending by paramilitary gangs

Two new TV commercials, which air Monday at 9 p.m. on UTV and Channel 4, are expected to highlight the dangers of illegal money lending by paramilitary gangs to control and exploit vulnerable people.

he Northern Ireland’s Executive Program to Combat Paramilitary Activities, Crime and Organized Crime is launching the ads as part of its ‘Ending the Harm’ public awareness campaign.

Both commercials tell how a small loan from a paramilitary lender can quickly get out of hand.

One ad focuses on the victim and their lending experience, and the second highlights the paramilitary lender and their actions.

Justice Minister Naomi Long said, “We know from research and evidence that paramilitary gangs and those associated with them use illegal money lending to try to coerce and control people and communities for their own benefit.

“When this campaign was launched in June, I said that illegal money lending was an underreported crime that targets the vulnerable when they are most desperate.

“In the current climate, people face real financial challenges,” she added.

“With the ongoing pandemic, rising energy and fuel costs and Christmas just around the corner, many people are vulnerable and genuinely worried about how to make ends meet.

“We know it is common for victims of crime like this to feel that they have no one to turn to. But support and help is available.

The Minister of Justice encourages all victims of criminal behavior like this to contact the police.

NI Advice also operates free and confidential debt service, offering practical advice and support to people facing debt of any kind.

“The Inter-Executive Program to Combat Paramilitary, Crime and Organized Crime strives to build safer communities resilient to paramilitary, crime and coercive control,” she said.

“This is important work to end the damage done to our society by the paramilitary gangs. “

NI Advice is an independent charity that provides confidential debt advice to anyone in this situation.

Bob Strong, Managing Director of Advice NI, said: “Our debt counselors are trained experts who can help and support people in debt of all types and we encourage people to call our confidential helpline on 0800 915 4604. . “

PSNI Deputy Chief of Police (ACC) Mark McEwan said, “These criminals are setting unreasonable interest rates and costly penalties that borrowers cannot afford.

“When people fall behind in their payments, they use the threat of exposure, embarrassment and violence. They make borrowers believe that there is no way out of the situation.
“I encourage anyone who believes they have been caught in such a situation to report it to the police on non-urgent number 101, or submit a report online using our non-urgent report form via http: //www.psni. police.uk/makeareport/.

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