HARD-hitting posters designed by students in Bolton warning of the dangers of approaching loan sharks are featuring in a nationwide campaign aiming to wipe out the unscrupulous money lending trade.

Graphic design students at the University of Bolton have created the posters as part of a competition to raise awareness of the issue and reassure the community that help is available.

Powerful slogans featured in the collection including: "I wanted to go to the police but he told me he would kill me if I did"; "This toy would cost me £450 and my marriage" and "Loan sharks hunting in your area".

The England Illegal Money Lending Team, working with the university, Bolton Council, Bolton at Home and Greater Manchester Police launched the scene and more than 30 entries were showcased at Bolton Central Library throughout Loan Shark Awareness Week and visitors were encouraged to vote for their favourite with the winning designs being displayed across the country.

Marta Pacholak, who is 21 and from Salford, placed first in the Community Reassurance category, while 20-year-old Amber Roberts from Manchester was runner up.

The Equalities category was won by 19-year-old Nicola Murphy from Manchester, while Dom Horton from Wigan, also 19, came in second.

All four students were presented with awards by Cllr Derek Burrows, Bolton Council Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Neighbourhood Services, and Cllr Noel Spencer, Bolton at Home’s Life President.

Carol Allison, Programme Leader Graphic Design at the University of Bolton, said: “Working to a professional brief is a key part of students’ industry experience and they’re really risen to the challenge.

"We’ve all been impressed by the quality of the students’ work this year and it’s great to see it on show until the New Year as part of an exhibition."

Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “We are delighted to work with Bolton University again and are thrilled with the quality of the posters they have developed. Illegal Money Lenders are a scourge on communities and anything we can do to let the public know that help is available is a good thing.

"All the posters promote our hotline 0300 555 2222, which we would encourage people to ring if they have fallen prey to a loan shark.”

The campaign aims to encourage people to report suspected loan sharks anonymously by calling 0300 555 2222. The phone line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Reports can also be made by texting ‘loan shark + message’ to 60003, emailing reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk or by private message to the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject

On average, £120 million is loaned illegally every year and more than £450 million is repaid by vulnerable people.