Passengers report drunken abuse on North Boats

Serco NorthLink is investigating a recent incident following claims about the behaviour of “oil workers”, which saw ferry passengers abused and intimidated by “drunken louts”.

The incident, the latest in several The Shetland Times has been made aware of, happened on a crowded southbound ferry last Wednesday.

Accounts of the most recent episode have been posted on social media sites prompting the NorthLink investigation.

One passenger who was heading south to play a concert in Tobermory was professional musician Kris Drever. He said he put up his yarn on Facebook to alert people to the kind of ugly scene that has become increas­ingly commonplace, with gas plant workers being fingered as the main culprits.

Kris Drever
Kris Drever

Much of Mr Drever’s account is too crude to be repeated in these pages. But he tells of how one lout crossed the divide from drunken banter to abusing and sexually harassing a number of passengers.

According to Mr Drever the man crudely propositioned one young woman who had innocently spoken to him before harassing a couple of Italian men, suggesting what he had done to their mothers.

He then targeted an elderly Ork­ney couple who he got to stick their fingers in his navel, before simul­ating sex with a table, all the while shouting obscenities.

Eventually, after many of his hap­less victims had left the bar in disgust, the man fell out with others in his group who had to be kept away from him by bar staff for the sake of his own safety.

The bar staff kept selling both parties drink after the incident, Mr Drever said.

Mr Drever added later that he did not want to have a go at the North­Link staff who had a difficult job to do, especially when there were large numbers of drunken men on the boat who were determined to keep on drinking.

“I would like to take a balanced view and not just throw pelters at NorthLink,” he said. “The thing was these guys should not have been getting served. It is a tough job for the guys behind the bar.”

Crew were in a difficult position if they barred people from drinking, when they might end up stuck with large numbers of disgruntled drink­ers roaming the boat.

“I can see why they might go for the quiet life and continue serving them,” Mr Drever said.

He said that if anything, much of the blame fell on the yob’s colleagues who had turned a blind eye to his misbehaviour until he ended up offending them.

Mr Drever’s night got worse when he went to his recliner to find it occupied. Deciding the deck
was his best option, he attempted to sleep between the seats, only to be kept awake by a nearby couple copulating.

Mr Drever’s Facebook story had attracted 141 comments, a great many agreeing or sharing similar experiences, and had been shared 36 times by yesterday.

He stated at the end of his account that he was thinking of starting a public collection of such incidents. According to the Facebook respon­ses, single women, in particular, often avoid the bar area to avoid harassment.

Stuart Garrett
Stuart Garrett

Serco NorthLink managing director Stuart Garrett stated later: “We operate a zero tolerance policy to drugs and alcohol and work closely with the police at all ports to ensure our expectation of passenger behaviour is met.

“Passengers appearing under the influence of drugs or alcohol at check-in will not be allowed to board the vessel.

“Furthermore, we encourage our staff to refuse to sell alcohol to any passenger whose behaviour may cause offence to others or who may be deemed to be putting themselves, staff or fellow passengers at risk.

“We continue to provide an effec­tive on board security presence and have no hesitation facilitating custody arrangements for those whose behaviour falls below a public decency standard.”

When asked by The Shetland Times to explain how “zero toler­ance” operated when alcohol is sold on ferries, including sometimes to apparently drunk passengers, the company stated: “All staff are fully trained and briefed to national standards when it comes to the sale of alcohol onboard.”

Mr Drever said that he had been contacted by NorthLink after pub­lish­ing his Facebook story and the company had been “very helpful”. They were in the process of review­ing CCTV footage of the night in question and would refer anything that could be construed as a criminal act to the police.

Mr Drever was told any footage or photographs of offenders would be submitted to the petrochemical companies working in Shetland. This had been done in the past, he was told, resulting in dismissal.

However, Serco NorthLink and Grampian Police both denied an earlier complaint received by The Shetland Times about rowdy behav­iour on the ferry which was alleged to have resulted in arrests when it docked in Aberdeen.

Lerwick-based Brazilian anthro­p­ologist Rodrigo Ferrari Nunes, who was on the ferry the same night as Mr Drever, had been in the bar watching his country’s World Cup match.

Rodrigo Ferrari Nunes
Rodrigo Ferrari Nunes

He said his enjoyment was cut short by four yobs who started jeer­ing him as he celebrated Brazil’s goals in his native Portuguese.

Mr Ferrari Nunes said he put up with being imitated and laughed at throughout the match and his attempts to reason with the men fell flat – he even offered to translate for them.

He said in his post: “I have to wonder – should I take it as racism, ignorance, stupidity or just envy because England has been eliminated … or perhaps a mix of all that? Staff on the boat later [told] me that these types are always causing trouble.

“Staff express their concern that people like that have money to spend here and are spoiling other’s experi­ences. Having money to spend apparently means they can get away with being racist ignoramuses.”

Mr Ferrari Nunes said he had watched football matches in many foreign places throughout the world but had never experienced that kind of drunken hostility.

After the incident he said that bar staff had been sympathetic and expressed their disgust with the drunks, who had attempted to buy alcohol long after closing time, even attempting to bribe the staff.

Mr Nunes said the same behav­iour now often spoiled the enjoyment of local people and musicians at nights out in Lerwick.

He pointed out that NorthLink was a lifeline ferry service for island­ers as well as the main link for tourists and should not be used as a commuter service for oil workers.

A Petrofac press spokesman was asked if there was evidence that employees had been involved in the incident. He pointed out that the offenders being associated in the public mind with the gas plant did not amount to proof.


Add Your Comment
  • Joe Johnson

    • June 27th, 2014 16:21

    Get security onboard and video surveillance camera’s. Ban anyone from sailing with Northlink who causes trouble and report them to the police. the company’s who employ the oil workers or gas workers should fire anyone of them who get arrested by the police for criminal behaviour on the boats. That’ll hopefully make them think twice about their behaviour. why should folk have to put up with this kind of behaviour! It’s a disgrace

    • Jamie Pritchard

      • June 28th, 2014 11:05

      This already happens, there are security guards on the boats and security camera’s. Almost all who cause trouble get banned and the worst get reported to the police. The company has been in touch with the employers of the troublemakers and are quick to sack anyone who causes trouble. But this doesn’t help when a new batch of workers come on board in their place and begin to cause trouble. Many of the guys do not care if they get fired or not once they have a drink in them and some who travel have already been fired and are on their way home so they get as drunk as possible. Without a ban on selling drink to all oil workers there is nothing that can be done, which Serco will never agree to as £££.

      • Rick Ferries

        • September 27th, 2014 16:48

        Jamie. Of course something can be done. That’s a defeatist attitude. Slopey shoulders from all concerned. Oil and Gas company “It’s not our fault” Ferry operators “It’s not our fault” Drunken thicko’s “It’s not our fault”
        Well sorry for bringing a bit of realism to the debate, but it’s ALL your faults. Too many people shirk responsibility,but the Ferry company must carry the can for ensuring the safety and well being of all passengers is paramount. If any passenger puts others safety at risk, they are breaking the law. No if’s, no buts. Arrest at the port of arrival and charged with endangering the safety of a vessel at sea. Didn’t some clown just get jailed that on a ferry from Harwich? Try getting an oil/gas or ofshore job with that on your record. Stop passing the buck and deal with the problem via the law.

  • Neil Anderson

    • June 27th, 2014 17:11

    The simple answer would be for the oil companies to fund security staff to patrol the boat ?

    • Rachel Buchan

      • June 28th, 2014 1:02

      Or to negotiate a contract with a helicopter or airline company to get their staff on and off the islands, maybe? That way nobody on the ferries, or on normal scheduled airline flights would have to worry.

    • Paul Dalley

      • July 2nd, 2014 12:52

      Its not just oilworkers causing issues on the boat

  • Joe Watt

    • June 27th, 2014 18:19

    Before I post this – Not all oilies are bad. haha Many a lovely chap on board those floatels I assure you. But i’m surprised that when the oil companies are willing to pay so much for everything else – they don’t secure a separate vessel for transporting workers. The only place i’ve had any trouble with workers is on the boat and I can understand why – they’re on their way home and they’re excited and drinking – or they’re on their way back to work and they’re depressed and drinking haha

  • Veronica Richards

    • June 27th, 2014 18:37

    I was on the boat the night the men or rather boys, broke the screen on the tv in the bar, completely wrecked their cabin ( broken things, flooded the place, nd fused the electrics) nd they kept us up all night. They were woken (in their cabin) by police officers in aberdeen in the morning where they were arrested i assume. northlink were good to us tho nd tried their best to make up for our horrible journey afterwards.

  • Neil Anderson

    • June 27th, 2014 19:35

    Would a full time police officer doin a niteshift on the boat not be an option ????

  • ian tinkler

    • June 27th, 2014 21:04

    Joe Johnson, take 500 plus men away from their homes, loved ones and families. Put them on a barge, let them work 40 hours plus a week for months on end. Then call it a disgrace when they get pissed, hardly not a Shetland man’s habit! For goodness sake, show a little sense. These people are helping us. What on Earth do you expect, show some tolerance and intelegence.

    • Steve Vile

      • June 29th, 2014 8:22

      Would you call it “Tolerance” if it was your wife/daughter,mother that was being harassed? I don’t think so.

    • Joe Johnson

      • June 30th, 2014 9:08

      Ian Tinkler, once again you are talking rubbish. why should folk show tolerance to drunken louts who smash up the place, sexually harass women, verbally abuse folk. There is no excuse!

  • Ann Clark

    • June 28th, 2014 6:41

    The Petrofac spokesman has obviously never travelled on the Serco Northlink Ferry with them. There is proof everytime you travel would he like a member of the public to film the behaviour for proof? I am sure there will be an opportunity very soon.

  • Jan Buchanan

    • June 28th, 2014 8:08

    I find it hard enough travelling on my own, last time going to Aberdeen my cabin door was rattled continually, and it got very noisy with rather unpleasant comments being shouted all along the corridor! When I tried to complain the next morning, I was told ” I was lucky, I should have let them in and had some fun…” I did ask if any one else had complained and was told yes, far too many fussy passengers on here last night!
    Not good enough….hate going by ferry….!

  • Sandy McDonald

    • June 28th, 2014 13:01

    (previous comment did not pass the moderator for some reason I can’t fathom so here it is again):

    Or don’t employ men like this in the first place?

  • David Spence

    • June 28th, 2014 18:43

    ‘ What on Earth do you expect, show some tolerance and intelegence. ‘

    Tolerance Ian…….You are joking aren’t you ? These guys, as you put it, were abusive, disgusting in their behaviour, rude and committed assault towards passengers……..

    so what if they are away from their families…boo hoo…….still no excuse for their behaviour towards other members of the public. (They took the job on knowing the terms and conditions……….to which is laughable compared to other employers……excuse me employer…..can you transport me from my house to my work and back again, can you feed me whilst I am working for you, can you compensate me for the distance I have to travel………..try telling an employer that before they employ you……..its a bloody joke what they demand……just because, as said, they are working away from their families etc etc. If the employer has any sense, they will sack these guys……hoping they may have learnt a lesson in how not to behave towards other people.

    I also blame Serco, for doing nothing……in fact, more than likely exacerbating the situation by giving these louts drink and more drink………Serco should be complained against for their lack of control of the situation or even worse…….making the situation worse for the passengers by standing by the sideline doing absolutely nothing……..oh, it may affect our profits…….excuse, mentality.

  • J R Wilson

    • June 28th, 2014 19:14

    Have any of you commentators ever watched the petrofac football team play? it will show you that these workers dont need alcohol to behave like animals physically and by the use of language which is utterly disgusting.

    I find it incredible that the bigwigs up at the gas plant are turning a blind eye to all this and this will eventually (if not done already) totally tarnish the name of petrofac.

  • jon turner (Leicestershire)

    • June 28th, 2014 20:34

    this sort of report worries my wife and myself as we were thinking of visiting the Shetlands this summer to think we could be on a ferry in the north sea for 12hrs with a load of drunks at large is not appealing as a tourist

  • ian tinkler

    • June 28th, 2014 20:48

    Put some 500, soon to be 1000, men away from friend and loved ones, sleep them on floating hovels with less luxuries than most HM prisons, absolutely no recreation whatsoever and expect them to behave when let out. What the hell do you expect. I have seen highly discipline Service personnel (RN, RM and Army) do far worse than these men, when let out without adequate supervision. Have a little compassion and understanding, hate then or loath them, the simple fact is, these men are building our future prosperity.
    Just as did the builders of the Sullom Terminal not so long ago. A few twats exist in every community, do not judge all by the behaviour of just a few idiots.

    • Robert Duncan

      • June 29th, 2014 16:54

      I don’t think many here have said all workers are ill behaved. The blame is clearly being apportioned to the select few, the companies who employ them, and to a smaller extent Northlink/Serco for continuing to ply them with alcohol.

      It is still possible to lessen the impact this minority of troublemakers can have on everyday sailers, of course. You yourself have pointed out some of the causal factors. To essentially just say, “boys will be boys” is not very productive.

    • Robert Lowes

      • June 30th, 2014 4:30

      Well, we do try Ian. But to be honest, you don’t always make it easy.

    • Sandy McDonald

      • June 30th, 2014 10:42

      Iain, I have been in the Merchant Navy for coming on 17 years now in what you would probably call a floating prison (although I certainly don’t think of my ship like this). In the earlier days the vessels were 100% British crewed. Going round the Australian and New Zealand coasts many of the locals in the smaller ports looked forward to the P&O boats coming in as the crew had a reputation for being a lot of fun, I cannot remember any of the issues that have been reported here in Shetland (I have to be honest that I haven’t witnessed anything myself up here). The boys generally showed a lot of respect to the local folk and if a younger member of the crew got carried away with himself he would be sternly reprimanded by the older lads.

      Although I happened to be in Gibraltar on one occasion when there were four RN vessels berthed – the behaviour of the military guys was atrocious – perhaps this is what you have seen yourself.

      You talk about pulling men away from their homes and young ones, they’re only away for a few weeks at a time and what is the big deal about working 40 hours a week? We would be away for 3 months or more and working up to 70-80 hours a week. Talking about building our future prosperity is a bit of a joke as I am sure this not the motivation for any of the workers up here – they’re here to do a job and get paid for it just like the rest of us.

    • John Tulloch

      • June 30th, 2014 13:16


      The clues to Ian’s view are there for those who wish to read:

      1. “….without adequate supervision.”

      2. “do not judge all by the behaviour of just a few idiots.”

      It is surely the responsibility of the ship’s master to ensure the voyage is conducted in an orderly manner? Serco-Northlink must ensure they provide whatever facilities, staff and training are needed for the skipper fulfil his responsibility; otherwise they are also at fault.

      It’s clear the management and crew have been taken by surprise and overwhelmed by the number of such passengers and they are, doubtless, beavering away to correct the situation.

    • Simon Banner

      • September 28th, 2014 8:33

      In response to Ian Tinkler

      If these guys are willingly going to work in a gas plant knowing the risks (they will be working long hours, away from their families, be depressed and will have to abstain from drink) through their own free will, then they themselves are responsible for taking the risk and making sure thatthey behave in an appropriate manner. There is no excuse for rude, drunken behaviour and racism that was experienced on the Boat. Indeed there are numerous people at the SGP who work far longer hours than the ’40 hour week’ that you described and many of them don’t drink or behave like the people described did. Poor treatement at work does not justify bad behaviour outside work, particularly when they are working through their own free will.

  • Steve Vile

    • June 29th, 2014 8:17

    There are two points to this, firstly, Northlink are partially to blame, they continue to serve them alcohol till the early hours of the morning. They say they will refuse to allow anyone that is drunk from travelling but a lot of them weren’t drunk when they got on board, it was through alcohol purchased on the boat. In addition to this they don’t have the resources on board to deal with an unruly incident of this size. I wasn’t on board but a guy that works up in Shetland told me that it was unbelievable the behaviour that night & that someone even got stabbed. Don’t know if it’s true or not.

    Secondly, Northlink say to report any incidents. Imagine you’re the complainant on the ship, alone or with your family. You’re going to make a complaint knowing That you’re probably going to have to sit with these drunken persons that you’ve just complained about for the next 12 hours aware that there isn’t the resources on board to deal with them if they were to kick off. I don’t think so.

  • john smith

    • June 29th, 2014 8:22

    I am Currently working in shetland as an oil / gas worker and use the ferry service monthly, i dont agree with rodrigo or the staff’s racist remarks labelling english workers as “these types” with cctv onboard could we just ban the idiots causing the trouble and let the normal non agressive passengers to enjoy their journey (like myself).
    i have been on journeys with 400+ workers and it was horrible, not all oil / gas workers are drunken louts, just ban the idiots, easy.

    • Robert Duncan

      • June 29th, 2014 16:57

      I think you have misinterpreted Mr Ferrari Nunes’ comments if you see them as racist. “These types” clearly does not refer to any nationality specifically.

  • Michael grant

    • June 29th, 2014 8:33

    Ian Tinkler,you should really think before you post on here,what you are saying,agreeing with the behaviour that these men are doing because they have been taking away from there families and loved ones and having to work 40+hours a week on a huge wage,it was there choice to come and work here,nobody forced them,hard done eh.

  • Ian Tinkler

    • June 29th, 2014 11:37

    Michael Grant, If you took the time to read what I actually wrote you will see I did not at any time condone, justify or agree with loutish behaviour. Perhaps before criticising others you should have the common decency and intelligence to read what they have written. I merely pointed out the some of the obvious reasons for the problematic behaviour. Is that too much for you to understand?

  • ian_tinkler

    • June 29th, 2014 12:39

    ERROR, please note Ian Tinkler not Michael Grant wrote “Michael Grant, If you took the time to read what I actually wrote you will see I did not at any time condone, justify or agree with loutish behaviour. Perhaps before criticising others you should have the common decency and intelligence to read what they have written. I merely pointed out the some of the obvious reasons for the problematic behaviour. Is that too much for you to understand?”

  • Rosa Steppanova

    • June 29th, 2014 12:56

    this sounds just like travelling on the ferry in the company of the Lerwick Up-helly-aa jarl squad…

  • Michael Johnston

    • June 29th, 2014 13:15

    Re Ian Tinkler. your comments appear to be very niave in the extreme. You speak of the conditions endured by these men in the oil/gas industry. As has been pointed out by others, no-one forced them to work there.
    My main bone of contention is the following: Tinkler states “what do you expect?”. Common sense/decency dictates that people respect one another, no matter where they are or the circumstances they find themselves in.
    Tinkler goes on to make a comparison with prisoners, on being released having to “let off steam” (sic).
    Anyone, having been released from “prison” and conducting themselves in the manner described on the boat south, would have found themselves immediately back in custody.
    I speak from much experience, being a retired police officer, working the “Glasgow Barlinnie” area.
    Sadly,Tinkler appears to be very niave as to the ways of the real world.

  • Kelly Graham

    • June 29th, 2014 19:19

    Can someone tell me what time this ferry crossing is at please?
    I was in stitches reading about it!!! Haha
    I will definitely be looking to travel on it haha good entertainment!!!
    As for all the stuffed shirts ranting!! Get a grip!!!
    The complainants should have cooled them down with a pint over him!! Haha
    As for the clown that says they should be sacked and they shouldn’t get all that money for the conditions they work under!! I take it he’s an employer and not an employee!!! Or how could he even think it OK to cut their it’s and CA’s or even worse not receive decent ones in the first place!!!! Idiot!!!

  • Colin Hunter

    • June 29th, 2014 19:40

    I have been a seaman all my working life. I initially spent many months at a time away from friends, family and loved ones. When my shipmates and I went ashore in foreign ports we never misbehaved (badly!) or got that much the worse for drink that we became unruly. The reason for that was that we were used to having a drink on board ship. In those days the ships had bars where the man could have a beer and a dram in the evenings. Consequently, we never had to drink an excess amount whenever we got the chance. Some Scandinavian companies used to operate a “dry ship” policy, and it was invariably the men ashore from these ships who bacame drunk ,caused trouble, and in some cases got arrested and locked up for the night. It is much the same with these guys I would imagine. They are required to adhere to a fairly stringent drink policy while at work, so when they get the chance to let their hair down, they do. It is a shame that some take it to an excessive level and mak complete fools of themselves, not to mention making other folks trips a misery.
    Some people may remember a ship called the Rangatira from the Sullom Voe construction days. She came here as an accommodation vessel along with the Stena Baltica. The Rangatira was originally built as an New Zealand inter island ferry running from Wellington to Lyttelton overnight, a journey of similar length to the trip to Aberdeen. I was on her as 3rd Engineer when she was in Port Stanley as a troopship just after the Falklands Conflict in 1982. I recall that she had a proper “brig” (Secure cell) abaft the bridge in which to carry detained persons to court. While in service it was more often used to house passengers who became unruly due to drink. She also had a proper “Drunk tank” which was literally just that, a windowless box in the middle of the ship that was accessed by a ladder through a trap door. This was also used for detaining obnoxious parties who refused to settle down. According to the Chief Engineer who was a New Zealander, it was used quite often as there was a zero tolerance policy for such behaviour.
    It is a shame that such a facility does not (Or appears not to) exist aboard the Northlink ferries. I would suggest a night spent in such surroundings would cure any problems forthwith!

  • Ian Tinkler

    • June 29th, 2014 21:35

    Michael Johnson, Perhaps before criticising others you should have the common decency and intelligence to read what was written. Just read what I actually wrote, if you do you will see I made no comparison whatsoever with prisoners, on being released having to “let off steam!.. I may be naive but I am at least accurate and honest in my quotes!. As a retired police officer you should at least be able get your facts right! You do yourself and the Police service no favours whatsoever if you are unable to read and understand plain English. I shudder to think that such ineptitude may represent policing standards of today. I merely pointed out the some of the obvious reasons for the problematic behaviour. Perhaps too much for you to understand?

  • Ian Tinkler

    • June 29th, 2014 21:37

    Sorry, Michael Johnston not Johnson

  • David Spence

    • June 29th, 2014 22:53

    I agree with what you have said Colin, but can you just imagine the queue of money grabbing lawyers and solicitors lining up (rubbing their hands with glee) just waiting to sue Serco or individual for breaching the offenders human rights, making them suffer under terrible conditions (boxed up) or the offenders (no thanks to our laws becoming more like the yanks (where justice is based on the the amount of money in your wallet and nothing else)) seeking compensation of some form because they were cooped up away from other passengers (quite rightly) whilst travelling on the boat? lol

  • Johan Adamson

    • June 30th, 2014 9:07

    I feel sorry for the Northlink staff who were inundated with more passengers than they were expecting that night. I wonder if Serco have arranged to get more staff on voyages like this. It might be foggy all summer?

  • Tajina Bain

    • June 30th, 2014 11:04

    Oh! Come on, we all know that Shetland has a reputation for drink and drugs. Its a place thats going to lose a lot if it doesn’t pull itself together. Its not only the on/offshore workers that get drunk. How many locals have been caught drinking and driving and it some cases 4+ times over the limit. Another reason is there is nothing to do up there. Who wants knitting, nature rambles and local fetes all the time eh! If you want to keep these people under control put some entertainment on site for them. Get a grip Shetland and wake-up and smell the coffee. literally…………….

  • Mark Jamieson

    • June 30th, 2014 12:38

    Do the workers get their fares on the ferry paid for by the company? A simple message from the companies stating over indulgence in alcohol from when they set foot on the boat until their return to mainland scotland is unacceptable.
    I suggest a person from the HR department of the companies breathalises them when they get off the boat in Aberdeen and Lerwick – if over the legal drink drive limit or whatever company policy is then gather your jotters.

  • ian tinkler

    • June 30th, 2014 13:53

    Joe Johnson, Did I ever say “we should excuse or condone drunken louts who smash up the place, sexually harass women, and verbally abuse folk. “? I certainly did not. What I did do was draw attention to the difficult situation, recreationally and socially these contract workers are in. I also drew attention to the public that the “stuffed shirt” mentality and reactionary observation, I quote you:” That’ll hopefully make them think twice about their behaviour. why should folk have to put up with this kind of behaviour! It’s a disgrace” helps no one. I advised that in my view that tolerance , instead of reactionary bluster and outright condemnation may be of help. Also perhaps Northlink should try a reasonable bar policy, instead of serving folk till they fall over!!!

  • John Fraser

    • June 30th, 2014 14:33

    I worked for Dan Air at Sumburgh back in the 70’s during the “oil boom”. There was a recognition by the oil/construction companies that they had to respect the local community. This meant that they had no tolerance of drunken misbehaviour. Miscreants were sacked or refused lodgings on site at Sullom Voe. The camps at Firth and especially Toft had plenty of on-site entertainment as well. The workforce at peak was around 7000 and by and large the efforts by the companies worked.
    Petrofac/Total and Serco Northlink need to work together to make the workforce realise that there will be no job for them if problems are reported or to hit the perpetrators in their pockets by demanding a substantial bond from them or their employers before accepting bookings. Of course Serco have a duty of care to all their passengers and as this is a known problem they are under some obligation to take measures to avoid future repetition, perhaps hiring some Police officers to travel on board would assist.

  • Joe Johnson

    • June 30th, 2014 16:38

    Ian Tinkler, whatever “difficult situation,socially and recreationally” it still does not excuse their behaviour. There is nothing wrong with drinking and having good time, winding down after a long busy week at work. But when it goes too far and you start causing trouble, then it’s wrong. It’s also inconsiderate to other people on the boat, especially those with kids on board. Summer holidays are starting soon and it is worrying for those who will travel on the boat who have kids. We’ve read about drunken louts who cause a disturbance to folk outside their cabins, banging on the doors and being loud etc.

  • ian tinkler

    • June 30th, 2014 17:06

    “I suggest a person from the HR department of the companies breathalyses them when they get off the boat in Aberdeen and Lerwick” – Let’s try that one on every trip, get the stocks ready, bring back the rack and a few thumb screws. We could try that on the Street also on Saturday night. Up Helly Aa mornings would be fun, breathalysers all round and free bear for a year for anyone under the driving limit, precious few would win that!. Anyone else any bright ideas?. Now how about little sanity, like a policeman on board paid for by Total, sensible bar serving protocols and horror of horrors close the bar before midnight.

  • Michael Johnston

    • June 30th, 2014 23:08

    Ian Tinkler. Your comments clearly made a reference to oil/gas personnel living in hovels, with less luxuries than HMP provides, & then on being “set free” rightly letting off steam. The inference any right-minded person would take would be identical to mine, ie the conduct displayed was absolutely deplorable, disgusting & against the common law crimes of: Breach of the Peace, Assault, Indecent Assault, Vandalism, Malicious Mischief, contra. Licensing(Scotland) Act,et al.
    I have gone back over the comments you used, and now quote them “verbatim”: “show some tolerance & intelligence(check your grammar)/sense; “what the hell do you expect?”; show some compassion & understanding”.
    I have also re-read the comments others have made re your note of 28th Inst, and have come to the following conclusion:
    ANY level headed, right minded person would NEVER show tolerance, understanding or compassion (your words) to any ned who conducts themselves in the manner described. In the ideal world they would be “hoovered-up” & in custody. I wonder, if you witnessed such aggressive conduct, what type of witness you would make-I suspect a “rose-tinted specs” one. Very, very niave. I suspect you come from a sheltered background!!

  • Ian Tinkler

    • July 1st, 2014 10:04

    Michael Johnston, your inferences, Sir, were not factually correct. As a retired Police person the very least you should do is not infer but quote fact. With regard to your comment “ANY level headed, right minded person would NEVER show tolerance, understanding or compassion” I think shows us all exactly what your mind set is. All I can say is thank God you have left the police force. There is absolutely no circumstance whatsoever when tolerance, understanding or compassion should not be shown, understand tolerance is not the same as toleration. I in no way condone loutish behaviour, but without understanding the reasons for it, there is no way it will be stopped. I am quite sure that sentiment should not be beyond you, I truly pity you if it is.

  • Dave Cooper

    • July 1st, 2014 10:09

    What happens to a licensed premises that does not control their clients drunken behaviour ? Do they loose there drinks licence ? Are the NorthLink ferries licensed ? If so it’s up to the licensing authority to take the appropriate action.
    On a personal note. I like a bottle of Red MacGregor or small bottle of wine to to go with my meal. But I think I could manage to go 12 or 14 hours without alcohol.

  • stephen shirmer

    • July 1st, 2014 14:39

    Well the knives are out, yes I agree that drunken behaviour is awful on boats or in the town centre.
    Having lived in Switzerland the last 6 years I am used to people being out to late and and not falling about drunk and fighting, though this is cultural ,and not in the nature of central europeans to behave badly with drink, not saying it does not exist.

    Though having lived in Shetland for 25 years I am amazed the response these drunken fools have created, have the good people of Shetland never seen drunk people before , as far as my memory goes it was a frequent occurrence, and still is, oil workers or no oil workers.
    So why all the fuss, these men work hard and live hard, and are at present boosting the shetland economy. I am sure that most of these oil workers are well behaved
    so why not give them the benifit of doubt before they are all thrown to the wolves.


  • David Spence

    • July 1st, 2014 14:46

    At the end of the day, no matter how you colour the situation in terms of justifying a few people getting drunk and making a nuisance of themselves as well as harassing other passengers (Ian and Tajina comments) what these louts did was install fear and anxiety onto innocent people who were just as entitled to a pleasant journey as those individuals who were getting their kicks and pleasure drinking alcohol whilst they were on the boat. Having a good time by drinking, let your hair down, having fun, lighten up, get a grip etc etc is still no excuse for the behaviour of those individuals who may have saw their actions as humorous, but to other people they were threatening, intimidating and causing fear and anguish.

    So what if they were away from their family, working normal hours (40) having the stress of having to travel back an forth from work (without paying anything) being fed whilst at work, living in reasonable conditions, having their living quarters cleaned every day………oh, my heart goes out to these poor people…..what a terrible life they must lead working up here……….did I mention also getting a very well paid salary?…………under such terrible conditions……we must take this into consideration and let these poor individuals off with all the stress, anxiety, fear and other acts which would warrant criminal charges they committed against other passengers whilst they were on the boat.

  • John Tulloch

    • July 1st, 2014 16:09

    I suspect some people are taking Mr Salmond’s comments about “the Saudi Arabia of Northern Europe” a tad too seriously.

    Some people have behaved badly. It isn’t the breakdown of civilised society.

    This is a matter for the Serco North Link management/crew and if necessary, the miscreants’ employers and the authorities, to sort out, nothing more.

    While all you finger-wagging types continue bustling, puffed-cheeked, in your corsets, tut-tutting from grimaces of outraged propriety, the SIC is gaily pressing on with the closure of rural schools and selling the fishing industry down the river for a submarine cable to facilitate Viking Energy.

    • Brian Smith

      • July 2nd, 2014 7:36

      I agree with John. People should only be allowed to complain about two things at a time.

      • John Tulloch

        • July 2nd, 2014 11:16

        “Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
        And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
        I will be brief: your noble son is mad:”
        (William Shakespeare, Hamlet Prince of Denmark).


  • David Spence

    • July 1st, 2014 16:38

    John, you know as well as I do, Serco will probably do nothing on the basis of a) they are making money by selling alcohol b) there isn’t enough staff onboard the ship to deal with such rowdy behaviour (completely ignoring the fact they were partial contributors) c) they don’t have enough administration staff (since getting rid of passports or other means of identification) to identify the said culprits thus no action taken when the boat arrives at its destination……….apart from this, I do agree with your comments about the situation, and where more important issues should be discussed lol

    • John Tulloch

      • July 1st, 2014 17:35

      I think you’ll find, David (my last comment on this) that if Serco fail to run ‘orderly voyages’ that they will be in trouble with the maritime authorities, as well as failing to deliver a satisfactory execution of the ferry contract which, assuming this carry-on doesn’t stop immediately, will be unlikely to be awarded to them again.

  • Simon Fraser

    • July 1st, 2014 23:13

    I bet they were all ‘vile Tories’ cos apparently they are the root of all problems

  • Dave Cooper

    • July 2nd, 2014 8:54

    Serco have a drugs policy. Alcohol is a major drug having many class A qualities. The trouble the sale of this drug is causing on their ships must, in the end prompt them to relaunch their current bars as say coffee bars.
    Many ships are already ‘dry’ so it won’t be anything new.

  • David Spence

    • July 2nd, 2014 12:24

    Point taken John. However, I would have to say that Serco, would be regarded as partial contributors to the disruption that was caused on the ferry by continuing to serve those people responsible for causing trouuble and anxiety towards other passengers………….and yes Simon, if the purpose of serving those people was commercially based in Serco making more money and profits, this too would have to be taken into account.

    If Serco does conduct an investigation into what happened, I am sure they will realize they are not blameless. Granted, like pubs, staff are obliged not to serve customers if they, the staff member, feels the customer has had too much to drink. It would be interesting to see in this investigation how the staff fair or whether Serco will protect its name and staff by putting the blame solely on the people who were causing the disruption.

    I agree with Dave Cooper, the bars should be coffee bars and no alcohol served on the ship at any time (even during eating times, wine).

  • Harry Dent

    • July 2nd, 2014 13:21

    There’s an important difference bewteen loutish behaviour in the town and on the boat; on the boat you are stuck with the louts for twelve hours.

    I have great sympathy with Serco staff – some of them were highlighted recently as being paid less than the national minimum wage, yet they’re expected to police foul behaviour of the sort detailed above.

    In the final analysis though it is Serco which must bear the responsibility for providing a safe and secure environment for all its passengers.

    I understand that anyone might want to blow off steam from time to time (even yours truly has been known to get falling-down drunk from time to time) but surely one can do that without being offensive and threatening.

    Of course it’s not just oil and gas workers; my last journey south was spoilt by disgusting behaviour from a couple who boarded at Kirkwall. They’d clearly been drinking (and quite possibly smoking somthing) for some time before they got on the boat and proceeded to behave offensively with foul langiage, shouting, and over-amorous behaviour falling mercifully short of copulation. When one young lady approached them and asked them politely to keep the noise down, she was met with a torrent of foul language and sexist abuse.

    To my shame, I kept my head down, fearing any intervention from me would be met with violence.

  • ian tinkler

    • July 3rd, 2014 14:03

    Further to all of the above. No one was arrested, no proven criminality was committed, on “The Boat” or in Lerwick on Thursday last. I am not aware of anyone from the boat formally complaining the police. Nasty as the situation may have been, idiotic comments like ” the conduct displayed was absolutely deplorable, disgusting & against the common law crimes of: Breach of the Peace, Assault, Indecent Assault, Vandalism, Malicious Mischief, contra. Licensing(Scotland) Act,et al..” can only sow seeds of hostility and prejudice and should be regarded as just as contemptible as the antics of the louts on the boat.

    • Dave Cooper

      • July 5th, 2014 23:34

      Try walking into a Police station & making complaints about people you can’t identify who have now dispersed. You could be seen as just wasting their time.
      If press reports & FaceBook are to be believed people did report to Serco staff. Did any of Serco’s staff hand out complaint forms or even inform the complainants that to get anywhere they needed to pursue an official complaints procedure ?
      Do I feel prejudice against people whose drug misuse causes problems for others ? The people who sown those seeds. They will reap that which they have sown.


Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.