From: David Hickson - campaigner against Silent Calls
A report from the National Audit Office, Ofcom: The effectiveness of converged regulation, published today, attacks Ofcom's failure to address the issue of Silent Calls.
Despite fines issued following investigations undertaken in 2007, Ofcom has not subsequently issued even one company with a simple Notification indicating that its practice of making Silent Calls represents a persistent misuse of a telecommunications network or service. Such a Notification may be followed by the imposition of an enforceable requirement to cease the practice and then a financial penalty in the event of a breach. The maximum level of penalty has recently been increased, but if nobody is breaking Ofcom's so-called "rules", which are currently in the course of being relaxed even further, then this cannot be expected to have any effect.
The NAO report looks at the levels of complaints about Silent Calls which are a potentially misleading indicator, as the peaks in levels of complaints are invariably associated with public discussion of the issue, i.e. an awareness of Ofcom's role. There is no evidence to show that the amount of nuisance being caused does not simply remain constant due to Ofcom's failure to use its statutory powers against those who perpetrate the nuisance. Despite often containing vital evidence of Silent Calls being made (10,000 instances in 2009) not one complaint (since 2007) has led to any use of Ofcom's powers.
A recent broadcast by BBC Watchdog (otherwise full of misinformation) suggested that the major perpetrators of the nuisance, e.g. British Gas and BT, are those who fully comply with Ofcom's tolerant and misguided policy of "regulation", which allows, and even encourages, the making of Silent Calls, under certain conditions.
The Ofcom policy on "Silent Calls" is a total disaster for the citizens that Ofcom has a duty to serve. During the period addressed by the NAO report, annual complaint levels have been rising, (5230, 7120, 7200, 9320) suggesting that the action taken has had no effect whatsoever.
The major problem in this area is with the convergence of Ofcom’s separate duties to further the interests of citizens in relation to communications matters, which applies here, and it’s quite separate duty to regulate the market for communications services. Ofcom’s failure to understand the distinction makes it totally ineffective in the former role.
Please contact me for further comment, information and proposals. (There is more to read on my blog at http://scvictim.blogspot.com).