OFFICERS faced a nine-mile drive to get to the scene of a raid at a jewellery shop in Swanage – because the town's police station is shut.

As reported, "chilled out" raiders armed with a machete staged a lengthy raid at Georgian Gems jewellers in the High Street at 7.50pm on Saturday.

The incident was watched by a crowd of around 20 pub-goers, one of whom attempted to intervene but was told by the criminals that they had acid spray.

In footage captured on CCTV and several camera phones, two masked men entered the closed shop – which lies some 600 yards from the old police station – while two more stood outside armed with a machete and crowbar.

Several 999 calls were apparently made.

But the main police station was shut down six years ago.

Armed police responded to the robbery after about 15 minutes and later found a white Volkswagen Golf linked to the crime abandoned several miles away.

Police are appealing for witnesses and confirmed that no arrests have been made.

Swanage has a daytime police presence, with officers based inside the town hall. In the evenings, however, officers have to travel nine miles from Wareham.

One person took to social media to write: "Criminals are realising that the police presence in Swanage is so bad they can literally rob a shop in a busy town and the police won't turn up for 20-30 minutes.

"It's just the front of them, to do this with so many people around. But there's no police in Swanage anymore and that's scary.

"To have more of a police presence would be good and would surely be a deterrent."

Brian Barker, the owner of the jewellers, said: "The police did their best and tried very hard to catch them but it was well planned and well thought out.

"The police are as good as they can be under the circumstances. We have a police presence but that has to come from Wareham, which is not ideal."

Detective Inspector Neil Wright, of Bournemouth CID, said: "A full and thorough investigation is underway to identify and arrest the offenders. We are carrying out a number of enquiries, including house-to-house visits.

"I understand this incident must have caused some concern to members of the public and officers from the local neighbourhood policing team can be approached with any concerns."

Inspector James Offer, of Purbeck police, said: "We have an excellent relationship with the various communities that make up this beautiful part of the world.

"We have maintained and enhanced our links to make us approachable, trustworthy and accessible.

"Swanage in particular is an excellent example of an embedded neighbourhood policing team that works from a council premises and is integral to the community.

"Recently, the team has been boosted by an additional PCSO and PC to enhance capabilities."