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'The Crump Affair'
 
An article that appeared in the 'Birmingham Mail' of November 7th 1924 detailed a court case involving the manager of the Bank's Duddeston branch. The events described in the article were referred to by Henry Bayliss (Memory 037) as 'The Crump Affair'.
 
The 'Birmingham Mail' article is reproduced below, together with the following
extractions from the Bank's Management Committee meetings:
- Report of the General Manager to the Finance Sub-Committee - October 14th 1924;
- Report of a Special Sub-Committee - October 20th 1924;
- General Purposes Sub-Committee minutes - December 8th 1924;
- Finance Sub-Committee minutes - January 12th 1925.
 
The consequences of this early defalcation in the Bank's history included the appointment of an additional Superintendent (later known as Branch Inspectors) and the introduction of more secure procedures in relation to passbooks. These new procedures included the use of a Register for Retained Passbooks.
 
 

'Birmingham Mail' - November 7th 1924

 

Sentence of six months’ imprisonment in the second division was passed this morning by the Stipendiary at Birmingham Police Court, upon Harry Howard Crump (age 45) of 161a Stratford Road, Sparkbrook, the former manager of the Duddeston Branch of the Birmingham Municipal Bank, charged with stealing money belonging to the bank.

 

Mr Pugh, who prosecuted, said the total amount of the deficiency would reach £500. Hitherto the accused had borne a good character.

 

Mr Hilton, the general manager of the Municipal Bank, said Crump had always been a good worker and had been keenly interested in the affairs of the bank.

 

The Stipendiary, imposing sentence said to accused: “You stole this money in a cool, calculating manner and grossly abused the confidence reposed in you.”

 

Opening the case, Mr Pugh, prosecuting solicitor, said that on April 24 Crump stole £10, on May 22, £20, and on August 19, £29. It was added by Mr Pugh that accused had been the trusted manager of the bank and complete confidence was reposed in him.

 

The sums of money mentioned had been paid into the account of a woman who could not write, and who had to testify to her signature by a cross. In respect of the £10 and the £20 the withdrawal notes were made out in the handwriting of Crump, and so was the signature “Alice Hutchins: her mark.” The mark was initialled by “H.H.C.” as a witness.

 

“As a matter of fact,” alleged Mr Pugh, “Mrs Hutchins was not at the bank on either of the days the money was supposed to have been withdrawn, and the mark was not made by her or with her authority.”

 

In another instance Crump took the withdrawal notice, initialled it “Examined, H.H.C.” to the lady cashier, and a pass-book was initialled. There must, added Mr Pugh, have been two pass-books in existence, one in Mrs Hutchins’ possession and another which the cashier must have initialled.

 

Evidence was given by Mrs Hutchins, of 10, Cranby Street, Saltley, and Mr J P Hilton, the general manager of the bank. The latter said Crump had been employed by the bank since 1919. Before that he had been in the Gas Department for 19 years. He became manager of the Duddeston branch in August, 1921.

 

Detective-sergeant Baguley put in a statement made by accused, in which he said that, after losing his wallet containing £40 in Treasury notes, he went to a moneylender and borrowed £40.

 

His eldest daughter was taken ill shortly afterwards, and he borrowed a further £50. In respect of these sums he repaid £135.

 

It was after borrowing the second amount that he thought of obtaining money from the bank customers. He had, he said, no idea of the approximate amount that he took.

 

Leaving Birmingham on October 5, he went to London, walking about from place to place with only a few coppers in his pockets. He had not a penny left of the money he took from the bank.

 

Accused appeared to feel his position acutely, and buried his face in his hands during the greater part of the hearing. On being formally charged he said: “I am guilty; I have nothing to say.”
 
 
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Report submitted by the General Manager to the Bank's Finance Sub-Committee meeting on October 14th 1924:
 
Disappearance of Mr Crump
 
The General Manager regrets to report that Mr H H Crump, an officer of the Bank, formerly Branch Manager at Duddeston, left home on Sunday, October 5th, at 10.30-am, and has not been heard of since. Investigations into the accounts of this Branch show that Mr Crump has received money and not accounted for the same, falsified the books, and put through receipts for moneys purporting to be withdrawn by depositors, who deny that such moneys have been withdrawn by them.
 
The Treasurer was requested to inform the Guarantee Society on Tuesday, October 7th, that Mr Crump had been suspended, and an investigation into the accounts was proceeding.
 
The investigations proved misappropriation of money, and an application was made to the Stipendiary on Friday, October 10th, for a warrant for the arrest of Mr Crump.
 
The Auditors (Messrs  Agar, Bates, Neal & Co) are conducting the investigations in conjunction with a selected staff of the Bank. Up to the present there appears to be evidence of misappropriation of £600 to £700; but until all the pass books can be obtained and examined, and the Auditors' report received, the facts cannot be known.
 
A full report of the steps taken by the General Manager and the position at the close of Friday night, October 10th, is in the hands of the Chairman. Subsequent reports will be made as the investigations develop.
 
The General Manager is of the opinion that the disclosures of this investigation warrant immediate action being taken with a view to introducing additional checks and safeguards, particularly in regard to the control, issue, and examination of pass books, and suggest that the Chairman and himself should submit proposals to a special meeting of this Sub-Committee.
 
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Report of Special Sub-Committee, dated October 20th 1924:
 
Duddeston Branch Investigations.
 
The Chairman and General Manager have had a long interview with the Auditor regarding the investigations now proceeding at Duddeston Branch in connection with the disappearance of Mr Crump.
 
In considering closely the system of bookkeeping and checking which takes place day by day, your Sub-Committee are pleased to be assured by the Auditor that he is quite satisfied with the arrangements, and that it is neither necessary nor desirable to introduce any further check or internal audit, which, in his opinion, would only complicate what is a simple and effective system and check provided the instructions laid down for the guidance of officers are carried out.
 
The weakness, as disclosed by the investigations, would appear to be in the issue and control of pass books, and this matter has been very carefully looked into, with the result that the General Manager has submitted proposals for the issue and control which your Sub-Committee and Auditor thoroughly agree with.
 
As the investigations prove that it is more a matter of supervision at the Branches than the introduction of any additional checks or alterations of the system, your Sub-Committee are of opinion that the necessary supervision should be more closely maintained. They realise that the area to be covered and the number of Branches make it impossible for the two Superintendents to do justice to the Bank or to themselves in this matter; and to meet the situation a proposal is made to appoint an additional Superintendent.
 
Your Sub-Committee are further of opinion that while it is necessary to have this closer supervision, it is nevertheless in the interests of the Bank to insist upon the work of the Bank being carried out in accordance with the instructions laid down; and that while the Superintendents would be expected, as they are today, to make certain tests and checks, their duties should be carried out tactfully and in a friendly spirit of supervision rather than dictatorial or inquisitorial. If this is done it is felt that the keen interest and enthusiasm which has hitherto marked the work of the officers will not be diminished.
 
The case at Duddeston clearly points out, however, that duties have been undertaken by subordinates who have either failed to understand or not read the instructions, or have complied with instructions given by the Branch Manager in a spirit of obedience. While your Sub-Committee realise that the man in charge must have respect paid to his position by those under him, they are nevertheless convinced that it would be made an offence, rendering an officer liable to dismissal, if he or she knowingly discharges a duty which is in defiance of the instructions laid down; and that if an officer is called upon to perform a duty which he does not understand and the position is not satisfactorily explained to him, his performance of that duty under protest and subsequent report to the General Manager will not be held as an insubordination.
 
Summarised, your Sub-Committee recommend as follows:-
 
1 All pass books in respect of new accounts shall bear a printed number corresponding to the number of the ledger account and signature book.
 
2 All pass books to be used as continuation or as duplicate pass books shall bear a printed serial letter and number.
 
3 Registers to be kept at Head Office of the issue to Branches of (1) new account pass books and (2) continuation or duplicate pass books, which registers the Auditors will check.
 
4 A register to be kept at each Branch indicating the issue of continuation or duplicate pass books, which the Auditors will check. (There is no need for a register in respect of new account pass books, as the ledger numbers and signature books are an automatic check.)
 
5 Two officers of the Bank to be made parties to the issue and entries in a continuation or duplicate pass book, and to be required to sign the register.
 
6 A register to be kept at each Branch of pass books which are left there for safe custody or other reasons, in which the signed authority of the depositor shall be given. (This is in substitution of the letters and slips of paper which are at present attached to the pass books.)
 
7 No deposit or withdrawal to be made except at the cashier’s desk and to the depositor or his authorised representative. In the case of postal transactions, the cashier to be responsible for the production to the Auditor of a registration receipt of posting where the money is not remitted by the General Manager’s cheque.
 
8 That an additional superintendent be appointed immediately. (In this connection your Sub-Committee recommend Mr Cheatle for this post).
 
9 It will be appreciated that appropriate instructions covering these points and other minor details are necessary, and your Sub-Committee recommend that the Chairman and General Manager should be authorised to issue to the Branches such instructions as they may deem necessary in the matter, and that authority should be given for action to be taken immediately on the lines indicated above.
 
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Extract from the minutes of the General Purposes Sub-Committee meeting of December 8th 1924:
 
It was pointed out that it would be necessary for the Bank Committee to pass a formal resolution terminating the appointment of Mr H H Crump.
 
632    RESOLVED:- That the General Committee be recommended to terminate Mr Crump's appointment as from 6th October last, and to ask the Finance Committee to agree to the return of Mr Crump's contributions under the Superannuation Scheme on his signed authority being obtained that the required amount should be paid to Mrs Crump.
 
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Extract from the minutes of the Finance Sub-Committee of January 12th 1925:
 
The General Manager reported that, with five exceptions, the whole of the pass books of Depositors at the Duddeston  Branch required by the Auditors, where the credit balances amounted to £5 or over, had been obtained and examined. The total amount involved in the five pass books not to hand totalled the sum of £174. 17. 1.
 
The General Manager also reported that of the pass books required by the Auditors where accounts had been closed during the period Mr Crump was at Duddeston Branch, he had been able to all with the exception of 32. Every possible effort had been made to trace these 32 without success.
 
Instructions have been given to the Branch that should any of the required books be presented at a future date they are to be retained for presentation to the Auditors.