Main Forum >> Freedom Of Information Responses & Requests >> FOI response - MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency

Message started by idb on Jul 8th, 2005 at 6:46pm

Title: FOI response - MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Post by idb on Jul 8th, 2005 at 6:46pm
Yet another agency prepared to reveal its non rip-off number - excellent stuff even if some of the MCA's arguments are simply wrong.

I'm even more confident that my request for an internal review with the Home Office will mean that it HAS to reveal its real number. Most other agencies have complied yet the Home Office/IND continues to dither. I had a second letter from Home Office yesterday delaying the review yet again:

"I'm very sorry to have to write to you again to inform you there will be a further delay in completing our review of the papers relating to the review of your information request.  The issues are proving more complex than anticipated which has led to a further extension to the deadline.

I anticipate that we should be able to provide you with a full response by 5 August.  

Again I apologise for this delay."

My original request, for a telephone number (!!!) was made on February 1, 2005. August 5 will mean half a year has passed since my request. Clueless.

Anyway onto the MCA:

I am pleased to confirm that I have been passed your request for information made in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act.

I have managed to locate the information relating to the origins of the 0870 number to which you refer (0870 6006505), and am pleased to be able to answer your questions below:

1) Requesting that MCA provides geographic numbers for the services that currently use 0870 numbers.

MCA only operate one 0870 service.  This is the 24/7 Infoline service (also known as the 'One Stop Shop'), and is based at our Swansea Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre.  The geographic number sitting beneath this 0870 national rate number is 01792 368889.

2) Requesting any relevant information as to why MCA introduced 0870 'revenue generating' numbers, and the amount of revenue generated.

When the MCA introduced an 0870 number, this was in order to provide unbiased non-discriminatory access to the One Stop Shop service regardless of the caller's location.  While 0870 numbers in the UK can be revenue generating, the MCA chose to implement a non-revenue generating option, it's purpose being to ensure that the caller pays the same (national) rate regardless of whether they call from within the same geographic location as the underlying service numbers or not.  The document si2 (attached) shows how the charges for such a service are shared between the providing company (in this case BT) and the contracting company (in this case MCA).  As can be seen from these, the charges are entirely bourne by the caller, but no more than a national rate call at any time.

3) Requesting why the MCA continues to use an 0870 number, apparently in contravention of COI guidance.

The guidance to which you refer was published on 26 January 2005.  As our 0870 number was ordered in 1998, there were no meetings at which the issues raised in the COI guidance were discussed.  However, in accordance with some of the recommendations of the COI, we do offer a single e-mail address and encourage enquiries to this via our website.  The website also publishes the individual geographic and business unit specific numbers required for all types of query, and as such essentially provides the same function as the staff on the 0870 number.  We consider that the e-mail and web based options we provide are broadly in keeping with COI guidelines to provide non-discriminatory access for citizens in parallel with a single non-geographic number.

Despite this, in light of our awareness of the COI guidance, we will be reappraising the cost effectiveness of the 0870 service provided to MCA by BT, and I wish to thank you for bringing this to my attention.

You also made a general comment on Ofcom's response to the problem of non-geographical number access from overseas.  Our records for the Swansea Infoline show that we consistently receive calls from overseas callers.  However, I have requested that an analysis of these locations be conducted in order to identify any possible countries from which we do not receive calls.  If any countries are missing, we will investigate whether this is as a result of 0870 dialling problems from within their country of origin.

I trust that these explanations, coupled with the attached .PDF documents, provide a satisfactorily comprehensive response to your questions.

However, if you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact me, or any of my colleagues within MCA.

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