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Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Increase to maximum penalty for making “Silent Calls” announced

From: David Hickson – campaigner

The Department for Business has announced that parliament will be invited to approve an increase to the maximum penalty that Ofcom may impose on those found to be making Silent Calls.

My comments on the consultation on this proposal are found in my Silent Calls Blog.

When parliament last granted Ofcom such an increase it came with the requirement -

"We expect you to use your powers to eradicate the nuisance of Silent Calls".

Ofcom has demonstrably failed to use its powers properly and effectively to this end.

I believe that Ofcom must offer a public assurance that it will change its approach and use its powers properly, before parliament can be asked to grant another increase.

Further comment (and questions for Ofcom)

Ofcom's inaction has little to do with the size of the maximum penalty, which was thought sufficient to deal with offenders such as Carphone Warehouse and Abbey (now Santander) who were fined less than the maximum (£35k and £30k respectively).  - Who is likely to be big enough to warrant £2 million?

Any deterrent effect of a large penalty relies on the assurance that Ofcom's powers will actually be used. Ofcom has not even issued a Notification against any Silent Caller since October 2008, and has not taken any action in respect of a reported single Silent Call that has been made since May 2007.  - Why has nothing been done about the reports it has received since that date?

It took Ofcom 17 months of investigation to collect the evidence necessary to impose the current maximum penalty of £50k on Barclaycard.  - How long would it need to collect the evidence necessary to impose a penalty of £2M?


I outline the approach that Ofcom should be taking, fully in line with the actual nature of its powers, in my response to the consultation.

If Ofcom does not guarantee a change of approach to justify the increase being granted then I will have to lobby for parliament to reject this proposal.

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