'SID the Shark' will be doing the rounds in Bromsgrove this week, as part of a new partnership with the council and police to protect residents from illegal money lenders.

Bromsgrove District Council, West Mercia Police and the Illegal Money Lending Team have teamed up to tackle loan sharks across the district, during the week-long 'Bite Back Campaign' from October 9 to 13.

The project was started in response to concerns that vulnerable members of the community are at risk of falling victim to loan sharks in the lead up to Christmas.

PC Simon Albutt, of Alvechurch and Wythall Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: "Loan sharks often target vulnerable people who struggle to access credit and loans.

"The reason behind choosing to do a bite back week in October is because most people start their Christmas shopping this month and with the festive season fast approaching, families might begin to feel extra pressure to make purchases they can’t afford."

Officers distributed hundreds of money lending information leaflets to residents this week, and have also been approaching shoppers in Bromsgrove town centre, Catshill, Perryfields and Sidemoor.

Local police will also be trained to help raise awareness of how to spot vulnerable individuals who may be at the grip of a loan shark.

Tony Quigley, head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said: "Illegal money lending is a despicable crime that affects the most vulnerable in our society.

"Our mascot Sid the Shark will be making an appearance at our pop-up events next week to highlight the dangers of using loan sharks."

Sid will be touring Rubery from 2pm to 4pm on October 9, Bromsgrove town centre from 10am to 4pm on October 10, Wythall and Alvechurch from 2pm to 4pm on October 11, Catshill from 10am to 12pm and Charford from 2pm to 4pm on October 12.

Cllr Margaret Sherrey, whose portfolio covers community safety, said: "We are proud to be supporting the Bite Back loan shark awareness week to encourage our residents to stop and think before they borrow.

"With Christmas fast approaching, this week is the perfect opportunity to make sure that residents who might need extra help, don’t turn to loan sharks for money, but seek help from local agencies and organisations that provide support and advice.”

Anyone concerned about loan sharks can contact the Illegal Money Lending Team on 0300 555 2222, or police on 999 for those in immediate danger.