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Cost of 0844 numbers (R015380)

 Thank you for your letter of 7 February where you requested clarification on the following information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA):

1. Why members of the public, indeed anyone, should be charged "7p plus your phone company’s access charge" when telephoning the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal’s Service on your time wasting and frustrating automated telephone system?

2. When did this system begin?

3. How much money has been made as a result of change?

4. And what is the breakdown, area by area, of the money made by the system? 

I will answer your questions in turn:

1. This is not recorded information and so is exempt in terms of s.17(1)(b) of FOISA as COPFS does not hold this information.

2. I refer to my colleague’s response to you dated 18 February 2016, reference R012044, which informed you that COPFS was notified of the 7p charge on 1 July 2015. For your ease of reference, the response is available at:

3. Again this has been answered in the above response – COPFS does not derive any income from calls to our 0844 numbers, nor is any portion of the cost to our customers offset against the supply of goods and services.

4. No money is made from the phone system and so I cannot provide this information as, in terms of s.17(1)(b) of FOISA, COPFS does not hold this information.

It might help if I further explain that the initial purpose of the 0844 number within COPFS allowed telephone extension mobility and a 'number for life' strategy. In July 2015, a decision was made to change the telephone numbers on our website and letterheads to local numbers, namely 01 numbers, to reduce the impact of using 0844. 

Moving forward, COPFS intends to move to a 0300 number in 2017.  This is the non-geographical number that Government departments have been advised to use.