At Caledoniain MacBrayne, we believe that our customers have a right to be heard, understood and respected.
Occasionally, certain actions by people using our services can make it very difficult for us to allow them to travel with us or deal with their enquiry or concern.
In a small number of cases the actions of some individuals become unacceptable because they involve abuse of our staff. When this happens we have to take appropriate steps. We have to consider whether the action impacts on our ability to do our work and to provide a service to others.
We are very clear in our supporting policy for our staff:
We will not tolerate any instance of work related violence, including verbal abuse, to our staff. All employees have the right to be treated with consideration, dignity and respect. The company will support any colleague subject to aggressive and violent behaviour and take the appropriate action to the fullest extent legally available.
We understand that people may act out of character in times of trouble or distress and we are committed to helping troubled and/or distressed customers to the fullest possible extent.
We understand that people can become angry when they feel that matters about which they feel strongly are not being dealt with as they wish. If that anger escalates into aggression towards our staff, we consider that unacceptable.
Any aggression or abuse directed towards our staff will not be tolerated.
Aggressive or abusive behaviour includes language (whether verbal or written) that may cause staff to feel afraid, threatened or abused and may include threats, personal verbal abuse, derogatory remarks and rudeness.
We also consider inflammatory statements, remarks of a racial or discriminatory nature and unsubstantiated allegations, to be abusive behaviour.
How we may deal with examples of unacceptable behaviour.
Where a member of the public has exhibited what we deem to be unacceptable behaviour, we have a number of actions that we may take, for example we may decide to:
Turn a customer away for a particular sailing and insist that they do not return to try and sail until they are no long under the influence of drink and/or drugs.
Ban a customer from sailing with us for a specific period of time, for example, they will not be able to sail with Caledonian MacBrayne for a one week period. The period of time will be determined based on the severity of the unreasonable behaviour.
Call Police Scotland and have any individual removed from our premises.
Call Police Scotland and have any individual removed from our premises and then charged for their behaviour, again based on the severity of their actions.
PROSECUTION IS SOMETHING WE WILL CONSIDER IF NECESSARY
Examples of Actions We have Previously Taken on Unacceptable Behaviour
Case Study 1
Before a sailing left from a major port, clearance had been given to gangway staff that the office was clear of foot passengers. At this time an individual entered the office and asked for two adult returns. He was informed by the staff that he had missed the ferry and was told that he could get a later crossing. Unbeknown to the office staff the man's girlfriend had bypassed the office and had run straight to the gangway and had talked the staff into leaving the gangway on and delaying the sailing by a few minutes as her partner was buying tickets. Both boarded the vessel and it departed. On the return leg, the male approached the ticket counter started to verbally abuse counter staff. He behaved in a very aggressive, abusive and threatening manner. He complained that he had been told he had missed the sailing on the previous day, when he had actually got on. He continued his verbal and threatening behaviour, including jumping up onto the counter trying to get over to the staff on the other side. The Port Manager attempted to activate the under the counter "panic" button but was unable to reach it. A Port Assistant tried to stop the man getting over the counter while another dialled 999 for Police assistance. After several minutes the man left the terminal building.
ACTION TAKEN: The Police arrived and after establishing the events, and viewing CCTV footage, left to search for the man. He was arrested nearby and charged with a Breach of the Peace.
Case Study 2
A regular passenger on a busy small ferry had a reputation for presenting for travel while being intoxicated and becoming aggressive and abusive to staff. A number of reports were received by the HSQE department, and 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.
ACTION TAKEN: 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. Crew continue to refuse carriage if they suspect the passenger to be intoxicated.
Cast Study 3
A number of unrelated incidents on one of our ferries have led to security staff being made available to assist crew at certain times. Security staff are provided to ensure that heavily intoxicated passengers are not permitted travel on weekend evenings if they are exhibiting unruly or aggressive behaviour. The presence of these extra staff has proved effective in moderating the behaviour of some passengers.
Cast Study 4
An articulated lorry driver presented for carriage at a slip on a busy day. The ferry loaded and the last vehicle to be boarded was an articulated vehicle. Crew quickly realised that the vessel's ramp would not close over the vehicles load and asked the lorry driver to reverse off until the crew could re-arrange the other traffic to make more room for the artic. The vehicle was not being refused travel - the driver was being asked to move the vehicle in order that it could be carried safely. The driver became aggressive and abusive, to such an extent that the crew felt it necessary to submit a report of the incident to the HSQE department.
ACTION TAKEN: The Port Manager subsequently spoke to the driver, who was warned against exhibiting such behaviour in the future. This was followed up by a letter from the Customer Care department to the vehicle's operator, warning of the consequences of such behaviour.