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Thefts at Splashes leisure centre in Rainham

By Dean Kilpatrick, local democracy reporter

A council-run leisure centre kept its safe unlocked during opening hours despite having previously been targeted by thieves, a review has found.

Splashes in Rainham was put under the spotlight by Medway Council’s counter-fraud team after a "small value" of money was stolen on an unknown date.

Officers found both the safe and office it sits in were not locked "meaning there was unrestricted access", with staff "not part of the approved list... able to access the safe and obtain change".

The safe was left unlocked at Splashes despite the leisure centre being targeted by thieves
The safe was left unlocked at Splashes despite the leisure centre being targeted by thieves

Management had previously identified "till floats were short", but did not investigate further as the "discrepancies were within identified tolerance levels".

Off-duty staff also used the room to store their personal belongings.

A number of recommendations – including ensuring the safe is locked at all times and making sure access to the main office is controlled – have now been introduced following the review.

Cllr Barry Kemp (Con) said the issues were down to "plain sloppiness".

Head of audit and counter fraud James Larkin said: "The security was not good enough on the day in question - someone has got in and had the money away.

"The security was not good enough on the day in question - someone has got in and had the money away" - James Larkin

"I know security has certainly improved since."

The offender has not been identified, and Mr Larkin confirmed there has been "at least" three or four "small value" thefts at Medway Council’s other satellite buildings in the past two years.

Cllr Vince Maple (Lab) added: "Over the last five-plus years, the most worrying examples where we’ve seen fundamental failings have been satellite building – and that’s not unique to Medway.

"I think part of the work (looking into such incidents) can look at good practice where we’ve seen good safeguards put in place to ensure things are kept safe and taxpayers’ money is protected."

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