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Publication - Report

Effectiveness of actions to reduce harm from nuisance calls in Scotland

Published: 19 Mar 2018
Part of:
Economy
ISBN:
9781788516532

Research commissioned to analyse the impact of actions set out in the Nuisance Calls Commission action plan, and to examine the outcomes of past interventions.

144 page PDF

2.3MB

144 page PDF

2.3MB

Contents
Effectiveness of actions to reduce harm from nuisance calls in Scotland
Annex K: Analysis of Ofcom data for Scotland

144 page PDF

2.3MB

Annex K: Analysis of Ofcom data for Scotland

K.1 Proportion of people receiving nuisance calls

The Ofcom consumer issues surveys have been recording consumer experience of nuisance calls several times each year since 2009. They are mainly useful, in the current context, for indicating whether consumers remember that they had nuisance calls. Figure 69 summarises their implications most relevant to a comparison between the nations of the UK and the government statistical regions of England [143] . It provides results for the consumer issues surveys in the months when the landline nuisance call surveys start, and for the years from 2014 onwards [144] .

In brief, the proportion of consumer issues survey respondents that report receiving nuisance calls on their landlines is consistently higher in Scotland than in most of the nations and regions but is rarely the highest. In particular:

  • In four surveys (January 2017, May 2015, July 2014 and May 2014) out of the twenty-one the proportion for Scotland is the highest or equal highest; usually the proportion for East Midlands, North East or South West is the highest (and the proportion for Northern Ireland or London is the lowest) [145] . Nonetheless, the proportion for Scotland often exceeds easily the proportion for England; for instance, for January 2017 the 99% confidence interval for Scotland stretches from 62% to 90% whilst that for England stretches from 49% to 59%.
  • In two years (2015 and 2014) the proportion for Scotland is the highest among those of the nations and regions. Overall, the proportion for Scotland resembles the proportion for Wales; for instance, for every year in Figure 69, the 99% confidence intervals around the proportions for Scotland and Wales overlap greatly [146] . However, some of the surveys reveal large differences between the proportions for Scotland and Wales.

Figure 69: Incidence of landline nuisance calls in Ofcom consumer issues surveys

Period Proportion of adults with landlines that reported receiving nuisance calls in four weeks in… Most affected region Least affected region
England Scotland Wales Northern Ireland UK except England UK except Scotland
% ± % ± % ± % ± % ± % ±
January 2017 54% 5% 76% 14% 50% 21% 38% 26% 62% 12% 53% 5% Scotland N Ireland
January 2016 58% 5% 62% 14% 72% 16% 63% 25% 65% 11% 58% 5% North East London
January 2015 62% 5% 65% 14% 76% 16% 70% 21% 70% 10% 63% 5% Wales East
January 2014 62% 5% 63% 14% 60% 19% 65% 24% 62% 10% 62% 5% East Midlands London
2017 56% 3% 63% 9% 65% 11% 43% 18% 60% 7% 56% 3% Wales N Ireland
2016 60% 2% 67% 6% 70% 7% 49% 12% 65% 5% 60% 2% East Midlands N Ireland
2015 67% 2% 74% 6% 73% 7% 58% 12% 71% 4% 66% 2% Scotland N Ireland
2014 64% 2% 74% 6% 68% 7% 64% 11% 71% 4% 69% 2% Scotland London
2014-2017 63% 1% 71% 2% 69% 4% 55 7% 68% 3% 64% 1% Scotland N Ireland

Note: % columns show overall proportions and ‘±’ columns the width of 99% confidence intervals

Figure 70 provides the proportions of diarists that report receiving nuisance calls in the Ofcom landline nuisance call surveys from 2013 onwards [147] . In it there does not appear to be a significant difference between Scotland and the rest of the UK. In two of the five years the proportion receiving nuisance calls might have been higher in Scotland than in the rest of the UK, but this is not so for other years, and in all of the years the confidence intervals around the proportions overlap greatly.

Figure 70: Incidence of landline nuisance calls in Ofcom nuisance call diary surveys

Period Proportion of adults with landlines that reported receiving nuisance calls in four weeks in… Most affected region Least affected region
England Scotland Wales Northern Ireland UK except England UK except Scotland
% ± % ± % ± % ± % ± % ±
January 2017 81% 4% 82% 12% 91% 10% 82% 30% 85% 8% 82% 4% North East South East
January 2016 85% 3% 81% 12% 82% 15% 88% 16% 83% 8% 85% 3% North East West Midlands
January 2015 86% 3% 92% 8% 86% 14% 81% 25% 89% 7% 86% 3% North East London
January 2014 86% 3% 83% 11% 80% 16% 83% 18% 82% 8% 86% 3% East Midlands Wales

Note: % columns show overall proportions and ‘±’ columns the width of 99% confidence intervals

The differences between the proportions in Figure 69 and the (much higher) proportions in Figure 70 are discussed in Annex H. Irrespective of them, the proportion of adults that receive nuisance calls seems to be greater at times in Scotland than in the rest of the UK, but the Ofcom data suggest that the difference is modest.

For completeness, we have looked at similar data for trueCall customers; the results are shown in Figure 71. This shows that the proportions of standard trueCall units that receive nuisance calls are similar in Scotland and the rest of the UK, especially when the confidence intervals around the proportions are considered [148] . This would be expected, as the motivation for buying a trueCall unit, to avoid receiving nuisance calls, is the same in Scotland as in the rest of the UK. However an absence of recorded calls for a month is more likely to mean that a unit has been switched off for a period than that no calls targeted its owner.

Figure 71: Proportions of standard trueCall units receiving nuisance calls

Period Proportion of units receiving nuisance calls in four weeks in…
England Scotland Wales Northern Ireland UK except England UK except Scotland
% ± % ± % ± % ± % ± % ±
January 2017 89% 1% 91% 3% 92% 7% 61% 38% 91% 3% 89% 1%
January 2016 90% 2% 94% 3% 91% 7% 77% 34% 93% 3% 90% 1%
January 2015 93% 1% 92% 4% 94% 6% 75% 37% 92% 3% 93% 1%
January 2014 92% 2% 94% 4% 92% 9% 77% 48% 93% 4% 92% 2%

Note: % columns show overall proportions and ‘±’ columns the width of 99% confidence intervals

The proportions of recipients of given numbers of calls are typically higher for trueCall units than for diarists, because trueCall units pick up calls even when diarists are not at home and because trueCall units are bought by people who receive more nuisance calls than they can tolerate.

K.2 The frequency of nuisance calls

Figure 72 provides a slight contrast with Figure 70: in the landline nuisance calls diary surveys for four of the five years the mean number of nuisance calls is higher in Scotland than in the rest of the UK (labelled as ‘ UK except Scotland’). So, even though the proportions of adults receiving nuisance calls might be no higher in Scotland than in the rest of the UK, the number of nuisance calls received per person is higher.

Figure 72: Numbers of nuisance calls received by users in Ofcom landline nuisance call surveys

Average (mean) number of nuisance calls per user in four weeks in… Most affected region Least affected region
England Scotland Wales Northern Ireland UK except England UK except Scotland
Period ave ± ave ± ave ± ave ± ave ± ave ±
January 2017 6.6 0.7 6.6 3.1 7.6 2.7 7.5 6.8 7.7 2.1 6.7 0.7 North East South East
January 2016 7.6 0.8 9.7 3.0 7.4 3.1 6.3 3.0 8.3 1.9 7.5 0.8 Yorks & Humber West Midlands
January 2015 8.0 0.9 12.7 3.3 8.4 4.5 8.9 9.8 11.0 2.6 8.1 0.9 Scotland West Midlands
January 2014 7.6 0.7 9.1 2.4 7.7 3.2 5.3 2.6 7.9 1.6 7.5 0.7 Scotland N Ireland
January 2013 7.0 0.8 9.7 3.5 7.4 3.0 4.9 3.0 8.3 2.3 7.0 0.8 Scotland N Ireland

Note: ‘ave’ columns show averages (mean) and ‘±’ columns the width of 99% confidence intervals

This distinction between Scotland and the rest of the UK is illustrated in Figure 73, which plots the proportion of recipients of nuisance calls against the number of calls received in the landline nuisance call surveys from 2013 onwards, all taken together. The lines are smoothed by averaging the number of calls over a rolling five-number interval, in order to show clearly how the proportion of recipients for particular numbers of calls was lower in Scotland than in the rest of the UK for lower numbers of calls (roughly 1-5) and higher for higher numbers of calls (roughly 10-30).

Figure 73: Proportions of landline users receiving given numbers of nuisance calls, UK and Scotland

Figure 73: Proportions of landline users receiving given numbers of nuisance calls, UK and Scotland

Source: Ofcom landline nuisance call surveys, 2013-2017

Figure 74 confirms the hypothesis that the number of nuisance calls received per person is higher in Scotland than in the rest of the UK. It summarises the mean numbers of nuisance calls reported by standard trueCall units, for the months when the landline nuisance call surveys start, and for the years from 2014 onwards. The mean numbers are lowest month-by-month for Northern Ireland or London; in that respect they match the consumer issues surveys. However, they typically show that units in Scotland receive many more nuisance calls than units in the rest of the UK: according to them a standard trueCall unit in Scotland has been receiving five nuisance calls for every three received by a unit in the rest of the UK.

Figure 74: Numbers of nuisance calls received by standard trueCall units

Average (mean) number of nuisance calls per unit in four weeks in… Most affected region Least affected region
England Scotland Wales Northern Ireland UK except England UK except Scotland
ave ± ave ± ave ± ave ± ave ± ave ±
January 2017 13.4 0.7 18.6 2.0 14.1 3.4 12.7 13.2 17.6 1.7 13.4 0.7 Scotland North West
January 2016 15.5 0.9 23.3 2.4 18.9 3.6 19.8 23.8 22.4 2.0 15.7 0.9 Scotland North East
January 2015 20.6 1.0 38.4 3.5 21.8 5.3 6.3 6.3 34.3 3.1 20.6 1.0 Scotland N Ireland
January 2014 19.2 1.5 32.0 3.8 20.8 4.8 10.5 7.8 29.2 3.2 19.2 1.5 Scotland N Ireland
2017 14.8 24.8 17.0 19.4 23.2 14.9 Scotland London
2016 16.1 27.8 17.1 19.1 25.5 16.1 Scotland London
2015 19.0 35.5 20.0 16.3 32.0 19.1 Scotland London
2014 21.7 32.5 21.9 11.4 29.8 21.7 Scotland N Ireland
2014-2017 17.9 30.4 19.0 16.9 27.8 17.9 Scotland London

Note: ‘ave’ columns show averages (mean) and ‘±’ columns the width of 99% confidence intervals

Figure 75 illustrates the same distinction, between Scotland and the rest of the UK, as Figure 73. It plots the proportion of recipients of nuisance calls against the number of calls received (averaged over a rolling five-number interval) by standard trueCall units from 2014 onwards [149] . Again the proportion of recipients for particular numbers of calls was lower in Scotland than in the rest of the UK for lower numbers of calls (roughly 1-10) and is higher for higher numbers of calls (roughly 11-20) [150] .

Figure 75: Distribution of nuisance calls to standard trueCall units, 2014-17, UK and Scotland

Figure 75: Distribution of nuisance calls to standard trueCall units, 2014-17, UK and Scotland

Figures for 2014-2017 derived from the analyses just discussed are consolidated in Figure 76 [151] . The differences between the figures provided by the standard trueCall units and the figures provided by the landline nuisance call surveys are discussed in Annex H. As discussed in 3.4 and 0, demographic and socio-economic differences do not clearly help to account for the differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK; government energy efficiency schemes appear to be an important part of the explanation.

Figure 76: Summary distribution of landline nuisance calls per user, 2014-17, UK and Scotland

Data source Proportion of recipients receiving in four weeks a number of calls in the range… Mean number received in four weeks
0 1-5 6-10 11-15 16-20 21-25 26-30 31-35 36-40
UK except Scotland
Ofcom landline nuisance call surveys 15% 39% 21% 11% 7% 3% 2% 1% 1% 7.4
Standard trueCall unit records 9% 15% 16% 14% 10% 8% 6% 5% 3% 17.9
Scotland
Ofcom landline nuisance call surveys 16% 26% 24% 12% 8% 7% 4% 2% 0% 9.8
Standard trueCall unit records 9% 18% 12% 18% 4% 9% 6% 5% 2% 30.4

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