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Mums in terror as loan sharks target them at school gates
Terrified parents are being “ambushed” for payments by loan sharks’ heavies with vicious dogs at school gates in Bradford.
In one incident, a primary school head teacher was forced to intervene as a thug with a bull terrier harrassed a distraught young mother for cash as she picked up her child.
The Telegraph & Argus is not revealing the identity of the school to protect parents, staff and pupils but the head teacher said she was dealing with up to two incidents a month and the problem was set to get worse as cash-strapped parents take out loans for Christmas.
Many of the parents are young mothers with babies in pushchairs and young children at school.
Councillor Ralph Berry , the executive member responsible for children’s services on Bradford Council, said the problem had been reported at other schools and head teachers were holding a meeting to discuss what to do.
The Bradford school head said: “There are a number of parents who owe money to debt collectors and loan sharks and you can tell the type of people the collectors are by the type of heavies they send.
“If parents are behind on payments, and trying to avoid these people, these people know they have to come to school to pick their children up.
“So they hang around the school gates and we have to intervene when they become aggressive with parents, or parents are so scared we have had to give them sanctuary.”
Some of the parents have been ushered out through a back entrance and they have been allowed to use the school’s telephone to call for help.
The head teacher said: “Last year when it got really bad I was seeing one or two incidents a month.
“The worst incident was when I had to stand between a debt collector and a parent because of the level of aggression. They come with dogs and I hate dogs. I often fear for my own safety but am supported by my senior staff and caretaker team.
“I just make it clear they are not allowed on school grounds but that doesn’t help parents if they are still hanging around on the pavement and some of the parents are really scared and upset.
Coun Berry said: “Head teachers have to protect families because of harrassment and they are convening a meeting so these people can no longer use schools for debt collecting.”
“I would advise people to report any incidents to the NPT on (01274) 376668 or the non-emergency number 101.”
Anyone who has information about loan sharks has also been urged to call The Illegal Money Lending Team hotline on 0300 555 2222.