A LARGE-scale manhunt was launched last night after an armed robbery at a betting shop in Bournemouth.

Detectives were called to Ladbrokes at Christchurch Road, between Pokesdown station and Iford Roundabout, after a man wielding a hammer entered the shop at 6.24pm and demanded cash.

They have released two CCTV images of the suspect and are asking any witnesses or anyone with information to come forward.

Following the raid, the police helicopter was scrambled to the area to help multiple police units on the ground in the search.

A spokesman said the robber threatened a male member of staff, who handed over money – the amount of which has not been revealed – before the offender fled the scene.

Detective Inspector Mark Samuel, of Bournemouth CID, said: “We were able to obtain very high quality CCTV images very quickly in relation to this incident.

“I am hoping that somebody will be able to recognise the suspect from these photographs. I would ask anyone who recognises him to contact Dorset Police urgently.

“I am keen to speak with anyone who has any information about the incident or may have seen the man in the area of Christchurch Road this evening.”

The robber is described as white, aged in his mid-30s, about 5ft 9in tall with short black hair.

He was wearing a white shirt with a black pin-striped suit jacket and jeans. He was also carrying a computer style bag.

Nobody was injured during the incident and no arrests have yet been made.

Witnesses and anyone with information should call Dorset Police in confidence on 101, quoting incident number 7:377.

Alternatively, call the free and anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111 where mobile phone tariffs may apply.

The robbery is one of six to have taken place in the area over the past few weeks.

An armed raider entered Central store at Cunningham Crescent, West Howe, on April 28, an attempted armed robbery occured at the Co-op in Bearwood on Saturday, April 19, as well as an incident in April at the Coral bookmakers in Winton.

Other incidents include a raid at a flat on the Quay, Poole, on April 25 and a 33-year-old woman was robbed at knifepoint in Lowther Gardens, Bournemouth, on April 23.