In late November 2017 we brought you a story about the theft of a Car Park Pay and Display machine in SDC’s High Knocke Car Park. An FoI request made by our public face and passed to the Shepwayvox Team means we can now enlighten you further.
High Knocke Car Park is situated on the A259 seafront on the border of Dymchurch and St Marys Bay and has two P&D machines numbers 11 and 41.
On or about the 11th/12th April 2017 machine 11 was stolen. This stolen machine was later found in Hythe Canal on 7th June 2017. The last transmission received from this machine was on 10 April at 01:50 hours.
As a result a new stock machine was ordered and was fitted by SDC Handymen on Monday 22nd May and all the relevant keys were handed to NSL Supervisor to await a Parkeon Engineer to attend and commission the new machine.
This occurred on 25th May and once complete the Parkeon engineer placed the keys (2 sets) in the top box of machine 41 (at High Knocke Car Park) to await collection by NSL.
On Friday 26th May NSL personnel picked up the keys (2 sets) and returned them to NSL Folkestone office inside the Civic Centre and handed them to another member of NSL staff who placed them (2 sets) in an unlocked drawer of the supervisor’s desk in the NSL office. The NSL member of staff informed SDC Officer Frederick Miller that the keys would be available for collection from NSL by 16:00hrs that day.
Records show that at 15:20 hours on Wednesday 31 st May 2017 an unauthorised entry was made into the cash box area of the new machine 11. On Saturday 3rd June a scheduled collection by CSS was made from Machine 11. Records show a discrepancy of £642.20. On a good will basis NSL refunded the money and was deducted from their Oct 17 invoice.
The FoI response and all attachments have been partially redacted. However, it would appear there were up to seven versions of the SDC High Knocke Theft Investigation report.
In Version 2 of the Investigation Report at page 3 it concludes thus:
This theft occurred due to circumstances creating an opportunity through not controlling sets of keys, and not updating CSS that the machine was up and running, and ensuring that they had the keys to empty the cash. An unscrupulous employee seized the opportunity to take the keys and empty the cash as a one off theft, believing that it could not be traced back to them. Investigations indicate that it is a member of the NSL staff and it is still hoped that the NSL internal investigation may reveal the culprit and that they deal with them appropriately, removing them from SDC premises.
NSL undertook their own report and delivered it via email to SDC on the 20th July 2017 – NSL INVESTIGATION REPORT. Their findings are as follows:
The following two points have been established beyond reasonable doubt
1. The new machine was accessed without authority at 15:20 hours on Wednesday 31st May and monies were removed amounting to £642.20.
2. NSL had possession of all keys relevant to Machine 11 in an unlocked desk drawer from 26th May to 2nd June. It is not disputed that under normal circumstances NSL Folkestone do not have possession of any cash related keys and do not have systems in place to securely keep and manage keys of this nature. However, having taken possession of them they should have either been returned immediately or as
soon as was practical, to SDC or kept in a secure location within NSL premises.
There are other areas of concern that impact on this incident.
1. If there had been a deputy for he/she would take on full Supervisory responsibility including the key for the secure cabinet.
2. The Parkeon Engineer could have returned the keys direct to SDC as soon as the machine was commissioned and not have involved a third party, (NSL), in this process.
3. Frederick Miller (pictured) of SDC was aware that the keys were available at NSL on 26th (May 2017) and therefore could have arranged for their collection on that day.
If any one of these points had been implemented the theft would have been prevented.
Now after the previous thefts from parking machines in 2012 one would have thought lessons had been learnt, but obviously not. So is it a case of incompetence? We’ll leave you to decide that.
The Shepwayvox Team