Voluntary sector - Cost of prison calls causes concern

Campaign: Super-complaint on the cost of telephone calls made by prisoners from British prisons Client: National Consumer Council PR Team: In-house comms team Timescale: April-June 2008 Budget: Approximately £2,000

 

A 30-minute call from a prison is seven times more expensive than the equivalent from a BT payphone. Therefore The Prison Reform Trust requested that the National Consumer Council (NCC) look into it. In June this year, the NCC, Scottish Consumer Council and Welsh Consumer Council launched a 'super-complaint'.

Objectives

- To apply pressure on BT and Siemens by generating high-profile media coverage

- To carefully manage reputational risk - limiting expected negative coverage.

Strategy and plan

As the story carried a reputational risk, personal briefings to journalists were preferred. FT was chosen for its market aspects and The Guardian and The Independent for a social angle.

Measurement and evaluation

On the launch day, positive pieces appeared in the FT, The Guardian, The Independent, Daily Mirror and Daily Star, with interviews on BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, BBC Breakfast and Channel 4 News. More than 30 regional papers covered the story.

Results

An early day motion supporting the campaign has so far been signed by more than 50 MPs.

In July, Ofcom announced it was launching a full investigation and will report later this month.

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