Ferry operator CalMac is launching a new campaign to reinforce its zero tolerance policy on unacceptable behaviour.
Over the past six months staff in ports and on-board vessels have reported a small but worrying increase in incidents of either verbal or physical abuse.
CalMac’s director of safety, environment and security, Louis de Wolff said: “Safety of our staff is a priority for us and recently we have seen a small upsurge of abusive passengers behaving in an intolerable way towards staff, this is unacceptable.
“With people out and about socialising more over the festive period we felt this was a good time to reinforce the standards of behaviour we expect passengers to have towards our staff.
“Good customer service is important for us and we are always striving to improve the way we deal with passengers, but in return we expect the same levels of courtesy.”
CalMac runs a fleet of 32 vessels across a network of 27 islands and remote mainland destinations. Last year it carried more than five million passengers and 1.2 million vehicles.
One recent example of unacceptable behaviour included an incident when a regular passenger on a busy small ferry had a reputation for presenting for travel while intoxicated and becoming aggressive and abusive to staff.
The crew were advised to call Police if passenger exhibited aggressive behaviour towards them again. Police were called and passenger was dealt with locally. Crew were advised not to carry the passenger if he appeared to be drunk or otherwise intoxicated and to assess the condition of the passenger on a case by case basis.
The passenger was subsequently refused passage and again became aggressive and abusive. Police have been called to deal with this passenger on a number of occasions now.
Louis de Wolff added: “This is a very small minority of passengers, but we feel we need to highlight that we will not tolerate any instance of work related violence, including verbal abuse, to our staff.
“Prosecution is a last resort but it is something we will consider if necessary and have had reason to proceed with in the past.”
Information about what is unacceptable behaviour from passengers will be displayed prominently in ports and on vessels.