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Young People: Contact Centres

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 5 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will place in the Library the findings of the mystery shopping and user survey research to monitor the performance of contact centres. (173128)

A mystery shopping exercise was undertaken in April 2006 to monitor the performance of the Teenage Pregnancy Helpline, Sexwise. At the time, the Sexwise line had been in operation since 1995, offering information and advice to young people about sex, relationships and contraception.

In order for the mystery shopping process to be credible, and to provide an understanding from a young person’s perspective, it was important to include young people. Therefore 12 young people, 6 girls and 6 boys, between the ages of 14 and 17, were recruited to undertake the mystery calls. Given the highly sensitive nature of the project and the subject matter of the calls, all parents were provided with a detailed background to the project and its objectives, and with detailed examples of the kinds of calls we would be asking their children to make. All provided written consent for their children to participate. MRS approval was gained for the proposed method prior to the project start.

It should be borne in mind that the young people calling the line were provided with a considerable amount of background information, which would probably not ordinarily be available to genuine callers. And while we tried to provide some quantification, the analysis was based on only 60 calls, and is qualitative rather than quantitative in nature. For this reason, the results of the report were not felt to warrant submission to the House of Commons Library but copies are available on request.