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Victory for campaigners in phone fight
4:12pm Tuesday 23rd May 2006 in News
COMMUNICATIONS watchdog Ofcom has pledged to keep a close eye on tele-sales companies to make sure they stick to new regulations against silent calls.
Campaigners scored a major victory as the government has announced a major crackdown on the telephone menace, with new measures aimed at stamping out the problem for good, as reported in later editions of yesterday's Daily Echo.
Households must now be told who is making the calls by a recorded message and will have access to the caller's number via the 1471 service. This will then allow them to block future calls.
If companies break these rules they could be fined up to £50,000 instead of the previous £5,000.
The move follows an investigation by Ofcom, which was sparked after thousands of Daily Echo readers joined forces with BBC Radio Solent listeners, in raising the issue. They want to stamp out the intimidating phone menace that had been terrifying them for months on end.
David Stewart, investigations director at Ofcom, said: "I think we feel that it's a major step forward.
"Our investigation revealed that there were far too many abandoned calls going on and too many of those were silent calls.
"We feel these new rules should make the situation far more transparent to callers, put the power in the hands of consumers and help the people who use dialler technology understand that they have to use it responsibly."
Companies investigated by Ofcom will now have to report to the regulatory body until May next year, and the watchdogs say they will be monitoring their calls to make sure they uphold the new regulations.
Silent call victim Sheila Hill joined BBC Radio Solent's Jo Palmer in taking thousands of supporting letters and e-mails to Whitehall after she triggered the campaign last year.
She told the Daily Echo she was amazed at the news and didn't know how many people shared her troubles.
"It's amazing. I'm so happy to hear something is being done about it," she said.
Jo added her delight at the news. "It means that there will be no more sinister silent calls which have left so many of our listeners so distressed," she said.