Cash Handling and Collection – The Real Million Pound Drop?

My take on an operation with poor cash collection procedures:

“You must count through millions of pounds in cash, in a small room, and log it all down. Whilst in the room, you can think about what you can do with all that cash, and maybe convince yourself how simple the banking process is. Finally, why not take a few quid, its easy enough, and after all, you are responsible for the entire process.”

And so it starts…

In May 2010 a man from Bristol was prosecuted for stealing £70,000 from the car parks in the council. He had a similar job, and a quote from the judge was:

“This was a gross breach of trust, to take £70,000 which didn’t belong to you. It was aggravated by the fact that you persisted for six years, doubtless because it was so easy.”

The point of this blog isn’t to accuse all parking and cash handling staff of stealing, but I am trying to point out the inherent flaws in so many car parks cash collection processes and the pitfalls that can be linked to it. Unfortunately I do have a lot of experience with this problem and I think it may have made me a little cynical, but I truly believe that sometimes, even the best of us can be convinced otherwise if enough money and the right situation is presented in front of you.

I have recently carried out a significant review of cash handling procedures throughout a large number of car parks and some of the cash handling procedures that I saw genuinely shocked me, to the point where I would not have been surprised to see a fleet of Ferrari’s outside. Honestly.

If staff in some of these car parks had been unscrupulous and took advantage of the system then we could have been losing thousands each week and would have never known. I’m sure a lot of managers would argue that they have robust systems in place and that all cash is logged etc etc, but this is basic stuff and I would counter that unless you have true segregation of duties and a separated audit trail, then your processes are flawed and open to abuse.

To combat the issues I found, we simply brought in a Cash in Transit company who remove money from machines ‘blind’ and have it counted elsewhere by an independent operator. Sure, this costs more and can make reconciliation a little more onerous, but there is no doubt that this process is by far the most secure and auditable process that can be put in place. I have far more confidence knowing that workers who have to be scanned in and out of 2 foot thick walled rooms are counting my cash rather than our on site staff, who should really be out there giving great customer service, not counting coins.

I think there is always time to review your cash handling procedures, and its always prudent to ask yourself if the process could be better. Maybe the next time a member of your staff has worked 521 days straight and is looking for more overtime, just think, this could be start of your very own, very expensive game show.