CONSUMER DIRECT CENTRAL DATABASE USER GROUP Minutes of meeting held 8 June 2006 Office of Fair Trading, Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square, London Attendees: Adrian Walker-Smith Consumer Direct, Director Brian Jackson Consumer Direct, Central Database Manager Gordon Simmonds Consumer Direct, IT Manager Graham Goldstraw Consumer Direct, IT Support Manager Lynn Duggan Consumer Direct, P&Q Manager and Training Manager Paul Roast Consumer Direct, Administrative Support David Nicholson Wales Heads of Trading Standards (WHoTS) Group - Wales Chris Cooper Durham County Council – North East Steve Mapson Northamptonshire TS - East Midlands Richard Guthrie West Yorkshire TS - Yorkshire & Humber Derek Wilkins North Somerset Trading Standards – South West Carol Garrett Suffolk TS - East of England Clive Watts Bexley TS - London Jane Edsell Hampshire TS - South East David Ellwood Cumbria TS - North West Carol Donovan Consumer Direct - West Midlands Jon Bryant Energy Watch Mary-Ellen Roden Cardiff County Council Neng Chan Cardiff County Council Michele Shambrook Consumer Direct South East Sam Tappenden Consumer Direct South East Apologies: Clive Smedley, Ken Daly, Rodger Mapleson, Margaret Daniels. 1. Welcome and introductions. AWS welcomed and thanked everyone for attending. He also welcomed Gordon Simmonds and Graham Goldstraw who, along with Margaret Daniels, are responsible for the core IT management and support function for the Consumer Direct central team. 2. Minutes of Last Meeting The minutes of Last Meeting were approved. With regard to an action point from the last meeting, BJ said that the Terms and Conditions for use of the database set out the rules regarding sharing of information with other organisations. If in doubt, database partners should refer any request for information from the database to the Consumer Direct central team. 3. Feedback from regions. All the regional representatives updated on how their region was progressing with using the database. A number of points were raised, including: Query from contact centres regarding regional database usage targets; Ease of retrieving data; Lack of training at contact centres; Continued importance of data cleansing; Concern regarding the limit on number of users; Report descriptions did not clearly describe the content of reports; Refresher training for TS; Problems with passwords expiring; Discrepancy between SEN07 and SEN1 when searched on the system; Request for a list showing the extent to which each authority used the database; A request for the INT13 Top Trader report to be made searchable by Local Authority (This is in fact already the case; Local Authority can be selected by the user from the drop down list. Changes will be made to make this clearer). Action point: GG to investigate SEN07/SEN1 problem and report back at next meeting. Action point: BJ to provide TS regional reps with statistics for use of the database by Local Authority. Action point: All to send screen shots of problems to GG and any other issues to be flagged with BJ. 4. Cardiff update NC said that there were over 1 million cases on the database. Data cleansing operations were being developed to improve data quality, including duplication of records. NC said that there were problems with advisors using default postcodes. There were five new reports that had been added: two signposting reports, list of postcode data, Thompson directory report, and monthly scorecard. NC said that the performance of the database had improved with faster reports. Additional RAM was to be added to the server in the coming weeks. The impact of the RAM on performance would be assessed and the IT team would update the group on this at the next meeting. NC requested that the TSC Case Handling System data files, which are currently sent at 4:30am, be sent to her earlier. Action Point: GG to request that TSC Case Handling System data files are sent earlier. JB suggested that a status screen could be added to the database which would indicate whether there were any current issues affecting the database. 5. Programme update, OFT transition. AWS gave an update on the Consumer Direct programme, including the transition from DTI to OFT which was successfully completed on 1 April. AWS said that interviews for his successor as the Director of Consumer Direct were to take place shortly and an announcement would be made in late June or early July. 6. Database update BJ updated the group on various database issues: The DTI’s agreements with database partners had been transferred from DTI to OFT on 1 April. The majority of partners had also signed and returned the updated OFT agreements, but a minority were yet to do so. Training had been rolled out to new ‘Public’ access database partners in Scotland and to Ofcom. Access to the central database was to be granted to TS staff at Northern Ireland’s Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment. With regard to longer term development of the database, consideration would be given to integration of Northern Ireland’s ConsumerLine data into the central database. BJ gave a demonstration of datacubes. A written user guide is available on the database website. MS and ST asked whether a datacube could be developed for the data quality report for use by the contact centres. BJ said that he would discuss this with the Detica consultants. Note: the datacubes currently available on the database website can be used to assess data quality. The central team can provide further advice on this as required. A mini-theatre session demonstrating potential uses of central database information in tracking rogue traders and in profiling consumers would be presented by BJ at TSI Conference. 7. Usage statistics and trends BJ gave a presentation on usage of the central database by TS partners across the regions and waves. The main points identified were that: In general, usage among wave 3 regions was highest, and wave 1 regions lowest. Usage in a number of regions peaked in March, probably due to end of year reporting Scotland’s usage was particularly low and, where possible, the central team would take action to promote use in Scotland. As a region, the North West were making most use of the database. Recent months had seen a general upward trend in use across all regions. Action point: BJ to circulate slides of presentation with minutes of the meeting. 8. User Guide A draft User Guide had been circulated to attendees in advance of the meeting. BJ said that such a guide had been one of the most popular requests from users in the survey which took place in February 2006. The objectives of the User Guide were to facilitate wider and more effective use of the database, and to at least partly address the demand for refresher training. The User Guide was aimed at broad spectrum of users from absolute beginners to accomplished users who could use the guide to help them use the database more effectively. A link to the User Guide would be added to the database website and also emailed to registered users (incrementally by region to avoid a potential flood of requests to the central team for password resets). Feedback on the User Guide from the group was positive with no requests for amendments. Action point: All to notify BJ of any suggested amendments to the User Guide for immediate incorporation by 14th June 2006, or at any time thereafter for future incorporation. Action point: BJ to notify regional representatives in advance of sending a link to the User Guide to users. 9. Ongoing Training Strategy. A draft Ongoing Training Strategy had been circulated to attendees in advance of the meeting. BJ said that the purpose of the strategy was to facilitate greater TSS involvement in meeting ongoing training requirements and to allow the central team to focus greater resource on developing the database, on ensuring that it meets the needs of new and existing users, and on evaluating use and promoting best practice. In brief, the draft strategy proposed that Existing TSS database partners cascade training to their own staff New TSS partner organisations are trained by an existing user identified by the regional database representative (central team able to provide names of ‘heavy users’) CD central team to train designated enforcers and other new partners There was general approval of the training strategy from the members of the group. Action point: All to notify BJ of any further comments regarding the Ongoing Training Strategy by 14th June 2006. 10. Revision of consumer complaints codes. AWS said that the consumer complaint codes used by Consumer Direct and guidance on how the codes are used required development. AWS said that the revision of the codes and the development of guidance would be considered by members of a Codes Review Group which would report its recommendations to the Database User Group. AWS said that the Codes Review Group would be chaired by the Director of Consumer Direct and the group would include representatives of the Consumer Direct central team, TS, LACORS, the contact centres and OFT. There was general discussion of the consumer complaint codes including the issues of uniformity of coding and the balance between the level of detail and ease of use. AWS asked for volunteers to represent the contact centres and TS on the Codes Review Group. MS agreed to represent the contact centres on the group. JE and DW agreed to represent TS. A query was raised regarding whether TSS use the Consumer Direct consumer complaint codes internally. Note: it appears that many TSS have so far continued to use, for internal purposes, the old ‘OFT codes’ that were previously used for quarterly returns to the OFT. In other cases, TSS have now started to use the Consumer Direct codes for internal use. 11. AOB and date of next meeting GG gave his telephone number for support to the group: 0207 211 5906. The next meeting would take place at the Office of Fair Trading on the afternoon of 4 September 2006.