Nuisance Calls Commission minutes: March 2017

Minutes from the third meeting of the short-life group set up to look at reducing the impact of nuisance calls in Scotland.

Attendees and apologies

In attendance

  • Keith Brown MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs & Fair Work
  • Sheena Brown, Scottish Government (SG)
  • Ken MacDonald, Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
  • David Clancy, Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
  • Julie McCarron, Trading Standards Scotland (TSS)
  • Brian Smith, SCOTSS
  • Dominic O’Hagan, Citizen Advice Scotland (CAS)
  • Thomas Docherty, Which?
  • Mairi MacLeod, Scotland Ofcom Communications Consumer Panel
  • John Mitchison, Telephone Preference Service (TPS)
  • Mark Dames, BT
  • Dominic Stanley, BT (by phone)
  • Huw Saunders, Ofcom
  • Eric Bash, Ofcom
  • Claire Mack, Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI)
  • Jeff Wilson, East Renfrewshire Council
  • Steve Smith, trueCall
  • Kristian Hicks, CPR Call Blocker (by phone)
  • Alastair Ross, Association of British Insurers
  • Donna Moore, Talk Talk
  • Bilal Toure, Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) (by phone)
  • Claire Milne, London School of Economics (consultant)
  • Laura McGlynn, Scottish Government (SG)
  • Andrew McConnell, Scottish Government (SG) – Secretariat


  • Amanda Williams, Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS)

Items and actions

1. Welcome and Introductions

Mr Brown welcomed the group and thanked all for attending the third meeting of the Commission and invited round table introductions.

2. Minutes of the previous meeting

The Commission agreed that the minutes of 18 January (paper 1) were a true reflection of discussion from the second Commission and that they would be uploaded to the Nuisance Calls Commission section of Updates on the agreed actions were invited from members.

Action: SG to work with members to identify additional members and presenters.


Action: SG to develop framework for roll-out of initiatives, including best practice and framework of behaviour which SG-backed schemes will engage in.

On-going – details will be included in the joint action plan

Action: members to consider piloting projects for Scotland

Nothing has been received to date, but members are encouraged to continue to continue to look for opportunities as their work progresses.

Action: members to send Jamie Steed comments on the consumer awareness campaign proposal and indicate how their organisations could participate by 13 February

Details have been received and have been shared with Which? who are leading on the consumer awareness campaign. Thomas Doherty updated the meeting on the progress that has been made with planning the campaign. It was agreed the main organisations involved in the campaign would meet separately outwith the Commission to take work forward.

Action: Ofcom to provide an update at the next meeting on contact with CRTC.

Ofcom officials noted that much of the early work in Canada involves putting in place measures already adopted in the UK. Their assessment is that more complex technical solutions are for the longer term and will not be in place in Canada any sooner than in the UK.

SG officials are exploring how best to deliver change to business behaviour, which will be a long term project. The business pledge is one avenue, but another might be to create a stand-alone commitment. Whichever method is chosen, it is important to sure it can achieve cultural change, rather than be a document that is signed up to and then forgotten about.

Action: SG and business members to explore scope of business campaign.

SCDI, in conjunction with SG, will use their network of members to host an event aimed at raising awareness of good consumer practice, including nuisance calls and data protection. SCDI will also circulate updates and guidance to their network via their regular newsletter. It was suggested that it might be worthwhile to expand the range of business organisations involved. There is a meeting of business organisations on 20 March and SCDI will raise the issue there to see if others would take part as well.

Action: Ofcom to explore supporting nuisance call number validation

Huw Saunders said it would take 2/3 years for there to be effective technology solutions. In the meantime telecoms companies who block scam numbers on their system will share these numbers with other companies.

Action: Julie McCarron to invite a representative from Police Scotland to the third meeting to discuss SOCA

Complete - Police Scotland advised they had very little intelligence on nuisance calls and therefore felt there wasn’t much they could contribute. Mr Brown commented that information did not seem to be shared effectively between agencies. He will write to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice.

It was noted that Royal Mail will be taking more effective action against scam mail by the end of March, so scammers may divert into telephone scams.

Action: SG to explore opportunities to build on existing partnership working to improve intelligence sharing and offer more holistic support.

SG are exploring how best to develop this, in particular whether it can be tied to development of a Consumer and CompetitionTaskforce, which is expected to be up and running later this year.

3. Examining the regulatory and enforcement environment to identify any potential gaps or areas for increased effectiveness

Mr Brown updated the Commission that the remainder of the session will focus on examining the regulatory and enforcement environment to identify any potential gaps or areas for increased effectiveness (paper 3).

The gaps identified in the paper were accepted. In addition, the following points were made:

  • Ofcom’s consultation about proposed changes to the General Conditions of Entitlement closed yesterday. These are the rules that all electronic communications providers have to meet in order to operate in the UK. Commission members were invited to offer any comments on these to Ofcom.
  • Customer confidence in TPS will increase when operators are fined for breaching TPS rules.
  • Registering of mobile numbers with TPS should be promoted.
  • The time of day when nuisance calls peak may be changing, and it might be worth exploring the data to see if this is supported.
  • Are political parties and campaigns (eg independence referendum) aware of the law? ICO write to appropriate bodies at the start of campaigns.
  • New General Data Protection Regulations from next year should be of assistance.

4. Next Steps

a. Agreement of actions

The group signed off the actions contained in paper 4.

b. Joint action plan

Mr Brown updated the group that it is intended that the joint action plan will be published at the start of the consumer awareness campaign week which is provisionally scheduled for early summer. During the discussion the following points were made:

  • CAS has relevant data available and will discuss this with SG.
  • An easy to read guide could be produced for people to place at their home phone. Consumer organisations may be best placed to produce something.
  • Can suitable call blocking technology be given to vulnerable consumers in the same way that they receive equipment through occupational therapists?
  • Contact needs to be made with the relations of vulnerable consumers. Could local authorities help in this?
  • Small businesses can be victims as well.

c. Monitoring and evaluation

Claire Milne gave a presentation (see supporting files) to the group on the statistical information she has gathered on nuisance calls.

Key point is that there is a lot of work going on to reduce nuisance calls, but steps should be taken to enable an overview of the whole spectrum to understand which actions are most effective. Following Claire’s presentation members were asked to think about what stats they hold or can access that could be provided when monitoring and evaluating the impact that the Nuisance Call Commission has made at tackling them.

5. Close

Mr Brown said that even though this was the final meeting of the Commission, Scottish Government and partners’ work is not done, and this will be reflected in the action plan. SG is committed to making progress, and recognises that the wider problem of scams goes far beyond just calls. There is growing awareness of the need to address the entire range of scams negatively affecting consumers, and SG will take this into account going forward. Mr Brown thanked all members for their contributions to the Nuisance Calls Commission and said that his officials will be in contact whilst developing the joint action plan.

Nuisance Calls Commission - Agenda - 15 March 2017.pdf
Claire Milne presentation scotland.pptx



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