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BT has launched a new free service to stop customers being plagued with nuisance phone calls.

The BT Call Protect service diverts unwanted calls to a junk voicemail box and could see up to 30 million nuisance calls being diverted every week.

Billed as the first service of its kind in the UK, it works by analysing larger amounts of live data, with rogue numbers identified and added to a blacklist.

The Call Protect service can then proactively divert calls before they reach and irritate a customer.

Customers can also compile their own personal blacklist by either dialling 1572 after receiving the call or by going online.

If the same numbers are added by a significant number of customers, they will also be included on BT's blacklist.

According to figures from BT, the average person receives four nuisance calls a week, and 60 per cent of these people admit they find dealing with them stressful.

The survey also revealed that more than one in four people are worried about the impact of nuisance calls on their parents or grandparents, as they are concerned about them possibly being conned.

John Petter, Chief Executive of BT Consumer, commented: "We’re declaring war on the companies that regularly pester our customers with nuisance calls on subjects such as PPI and personal accident claims. 

"We’re giving our customers the means to fight back against the millions of unwanted calls for free.         "We’ve been at the forefront of equipping our customers to defend themselves against the huge numbers of PPI and unwanted marketing calls that are continuing to grow. 

"Now, with our unique technology, we can identify and tackle huge numbers of those calls in the network and also give our customers control over the calls they receive."

Mr Petter went on to urge other telecoms providers to take similar steps and "up their game in the fight against this menace".

Television and radio presenter Christine Lampard has been signed up by BT to help promote the new BT Call Protect service to customers.

She warned that her parents have noticed a big rise in nuisance calls recently, which reflects how this issue is a particular problem for the older generation.

"BT Call Protect is a great new service designed to help prevent these calls," she said.

"Any help we can give to our parents and grandparents to avoid the stress of nuisance calls gets my vote."   The move has been hailed by Digital and Culture Minister Matt Hancock, who described nuisance callers as a "terrible blight on society".

However, he insisted that the government and the telecoms industry are working together to crack down on this problem.

"We’ve forced companies to display their numbers when they call you, made it easier to prosecute those involved in making the calls, and increased the maximum fines up to £500,000," Mr Hancock commented.

"We welcome BT's new service, which offers customers an additional level of protection, helping them to fight back against this ongoing harassment."

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