WREXHAM council is biting back against loan sharks thanks to support from a specialist all-Wales unit.

Trading standards officers from Wrexham are supporting the Illegal Money Lending Unit, staffed by local authority experts and a seconded police officer.

The unit has backing from the Welsh Assembly Government and the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

In the months since it was launched, the all-Wales unit has already demonstrated the support it can offer Wrexham residents.

Intelligence received via its hotline has led to operations being launched against illegal money lenders ranging from small-time loan-sharks to organised and violent financial criminal operations. The team is supporting victims, helping them with financial inclusion schemes and welfare support.

Andy Lewis, Wrexham council’s chief housing and public protection officer said: “Illegal and unscrupulous money lenders are a concern for our officers and we are pleased to be able to work with this new unit.”

Cllr David Bithell, lead member for the Environment and Transport said: “In the current economic climate, people with financial difficulties may be even more prone to getting involved with loan sharks.

“The important message to residents is help is available. I would encourage anyone who has information about loan sharks to contact the Unit’s 24-hour confidential hotline on 0300 123 3311.

“Residents should be aware there are alternatives, including Wrexham council’s own credit union.”