/ Technology

Taking nuisance calls campaign to Scottish Parliament

Today, we took the nuisance calls campaign to the Scottish Parliament. We talked to MSPs about the problem, shared your concerns, and outlined some of our solutions.

This morning, we released results from our survey that clearly showed that a considerable number of you want government action on nuisance calls.

A whopping 85% of those surveyed last November want action by the Scottish Government, and a similar level (87%) also want action at UK level.

With a clear mandate for action, today was a good day to reiterate our call on the Scottish Government to take this opportunity to set the trend and outline plans to tackle nuisance calls.

A heated debate

The Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) told us about their packed mailbags full up with frustration about nuisance calls, their concern that the problem seemed to be growing, and their annoyance with the slow rate of progress.

Many MSPs also recounted stories of how their own Parliamentary and constituency phone lines get clogged up with automated nuisance calls.

Graeme Day MSP
Graeme Day MSP,
photo by Colin Hattersley

The host of today’s event, Graeme Dey MSP, from Angus South, told us:

‘My support for this campaign stems both from personal experience of the menace that is nuisance calls and the impact these have on constituents. In my opinion the situation is getting worse rather than better.

‘Some of the perpetrators of these calls are becoming increasingly aggressive in their approach. Something has to be done. That will require cross governmental co-operation between Scotland and the UK and indeed involving the wider EU.’

Time for action

While you told us that it’s time for government action, our research also showed some interesting findings towards businesses who break the rules. Nine in ten people want to see the director of a company held personally accountable and fined if the company makes calls without the necessary permission.

Scottish energy company SSE have already publicly committed to tackling nuisance calls, but we need more businesses to step forward. The Scottish Government already has a Scottish Business Pledge, bringing together businesses that practice good conduct, so why not similar for nuisance calls?

To date the Scottish Government hasn’t formally responded to our campaign or pledged publicly to tackle the problem, but have assured us that they’re looking into whether there is a role for the Scottish Government in addressing this growing problem. We can only hope that this pursuit has a sense of immediacy to it, if you agree that more needs to be done then sign our petition today.

So what are your thoughts on nuisance calls – is it time for action from government, businesses, or both? Are you one of the 85% who think government can do more to fix this problem?


If as you say 85% of your pole voted to change this nonsense and if as you say politicians have full mail bags with complaints I await to see what they’l do,,,,,,,,,,if anything
Whilst a pole is not 100% accurate and mail bags are not like the result of a vote one would think that the message that people have had enough of this nonsense,,,,,,,,,,everywhere


Nuisance calls from identifiable sources is one thing. But many complain about calls from undisclosed sources – presumably mostly abroad. A separate issue then is surely what “technical” solution, if any, can deal with these, because UK legislation and fining directors is unlikely to have any effect on the perpetrators of these calls. Is there any way such calls can be prevented?

Eva, do you have a proposal to deal with this aspect?


Hi Malcolm. Indeed, we hear about lots of people getting calls from undisclosed sources that often read ‘caller ID withheld’ on the phone display. Last month, we welcomed a UK Government consultation proposing to stop UK companies using ‘caller withheld’, and forcing them to display a valid ID (see our convo here https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/nuisance-calls-caller-id-cli-law-announcement/). This should also apply to UK call centres operating overseas. If they breach the rules, even if the calls come from overseas, they will be hit with hefty fines.

Ray McKenna says:
2 February 2016

Never mind whether or not the number is withheld. Just ban all marketing calls. My phone. I pay for it. It is there for communication between me and my friends and companies with whom I have dealings, Not for some random person calling me to sell something which I do not want.
Myu attitude to these companies is, “If I want to buy from you, I will contact you.”


Correct, Ray! But why not target BT? I refuse to believe that they cannot identify these pests and bar them. Could it be because BT – whose “assistance” is limited to offering to sell me a phone which MIGHT bar them – make money from them?
Tom R.


Tom have you heard of _unbundling ? Brought in by the Government Telecommunications Act allowing – Tom-Dick -Harry- telecommunications companies to fit their OWN equipment in BT exchanges and use BT lines for there OWN customers benefit in high profit towns and cities to cream off the top money . These companies have FULL control over their own customers telephone and broadband use REMOTELY , so do all those other companies get away with it and not BT ? .That would contravene many HMG telecommunications acts that were brought out to create a level playing field. It would also upset all the consumers who DONT use BT as a service .


Ray’s comment is bang on ALL marketing calls should be illegal
Wesley Paxton Annan

malcolm g says:
2 February 2016

Hi malcolm r, I agree this is a national/UK/International problem from the point of view of from where the calls originate. But I would suggest that the problem is about money, as usual. Phone numbers given to companies for a specific purpose are being used for other purposes. The worst offending companies are those who sell on the phone numbers to others, stop this and the problem would end. If it does not end the problem there would be a clear audit trail of “follow the money”.

sandra brown says:
23 March 2016

sandra b : I am so fed up with automated calls, getting these about four times in a week my elderly father
(who is a carer for my seriously ill mother) gets the same amount of calls. I called B.T about this and they are as useful as a chocolate t-pot. They recommended a caller display phone okay easy answer to that one to endorse their product but what if the company is changing there number in order so they can be traced. I was told by nuicance department some cold calls come from Europe and you have to register with a government agency if it doesn’t stop and I did this and it becomes a vicious circle- you fine one in uk, another pops up. Make it illegal to cold call fine b.t if they pass on your phone number to these companies because when I was on a contract with mobile phone company they sold my number on to ppi calls; they denied it
but it was too much of a coincedence the ppi calls came not long after I had got the contract. Someone is making a profit out of this racket.