TWO men have been arrested after masked raiders threatened staff of a Bournemouth bookies with an axe.

The armed robbery took place on Wednesday afternoon at Coral in Columbia Road.

A 30-year-old man and a 27-year-old man, both from Bournemouth, have been arrested on suspicion of robbery and are assisting police with their enquiries.

Officers cordoned off the premises and a number of police cars were sent to the scene. The police helicopter was also overhead, searching for the men.

Dorset Police said they were called at 2.17pm to reports of a robbery at Coral bookmakers in the mainly residential road.

Two men wearing black scarves and hooded tops entered the shop and stole a quantity of cash.

A spokesperson said there were no customers in the shop during the incident and no members off staff were injured.

Dorset Police officers, with support from NPAS helicopter, searched the area for the offenders.

Detective Constable Ben Griffin, of Bournemouth CID, said: “I am appealing for anyone who may have witnessed the incident or the two alleged offenders to come forward.

“Witnesses and anyone with information should contact police, in confidence, on 101.”

Robert Stevenson, of B&C Domestics, one of the businesses opposite the bookmakers, said: "I’ve been here 23 years and it has been robbed before. This is the second time it has been done. It all kicked off around 2pm.

"I guess at this time of year people are feeling the pinch, but I doubt any bookies keep a lot of cash in the till nowadays."

Meanwhile, local resident Eric Tyrie told the Echo police had requested to view footage of his CCTV cameras, used to monitor his parking space close to the bookies.

Mr Tyrie said: "There were loads of police all over the place. Thankfully it doesn't look like anyone's been hurt."

The area immediately surrounding the bookmakers remained cordoned off by Dorset Police into the evening, to allow detectives and forensics officers to carry out their investigations.