NEWS19 September 2013

MRS calls on ICO to investigate prisoner ‘survey calls’

Government UK

UK — The Market Research Society (MRS) has asked for a formal investigation by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) as to whether prisoners at Oakwood prison are making sales calls under the guise of research – a practice known as sugging.

MRS chief executive Jane Frost has written to Information Commissioner Chris Graham asking his office to look into the prisoner work scheme which was first revealed in an article in the Daily Mail last month.

The society said that correspondence between Frost and G4S, the company that runs Oakwood prison, had failed to satisfy MRS that sugging wasn’t occurring.

MRS has requested an investigation under an agreement made between MRS, the ICO and Ofcom in June 2013 whereby the society would report instances of suspected sugging in an attempt to combat nuisance calls.

G4S has repeatedly denied that prisoners are engaged in “any activity which might constitute sugging”. In a recent letter to MRS, Jerry Petherick, G4S’s managing director for custodial and detention services, said prisoners are conducting “a consumer lifestyle survey – a series of simple questions about people’s spending choices across a range of areas (including utilities, insurance and pensions) on behalf of our commercial partner, a data collection specialist”.

However, Frost responded that: “So called ‘lifestyle surveys’ are labels often used to lead respondents into the mistaken belief that the survey is genuine market research. The respondent is unaware that his or her information is being used by a commercial third party to generate sales leads, or even being sold on to a further commercial third party to exploit.”



11 years ago

I think it's marvellous to see the MRS taking a stand on this. Their handling of the issue has been excellent thus far and Jane Frost in particular really seems to be taking the MRS in the right direction. If nothing else, it allows the MRS to make the most of the Fair Data initiative in the wider media.

Like Report

11 years ago

Completely agree with Steve's comment. Great to see this being we just need this pursuit to be reported in the national press as it's the public we need to give confidence!!

Like Report

11 years ago

However, it also shows the total ineffectiveness of so-called self-regulation. It looks to me like they will just ignore the MRS or swat it like a mosquito.

Like Report