ARMED robbers have held up a member of staff from a security firm in Witham.
The incident happened near Halifax in Newland Street at about 12.15pm and police cars at the scene of the incident.
Essex Police have confirmed the security van driver was leaving Halifax when he was approach by a man with a firearm who then fled with a five-figure sum of cash.
Witness Kayleigh Wilmott told our reporter: "We turned up just as it all happened.
"We heard something about an armed robbery."
Dorothy Lamb, manager at Roman, said: "The first we know was when a customer came in - we knew before the police got here.
"Someone said someone had held up the bank at gun point and that they had taken money.
"I think after the inital shock people just went about their business as usual."
Witnesses also reported seeing armed police and forensic teams on site.
A spokesman for the Lloyds Banking Group, said: “We have been made aware of an incident outside the Halifax branch in Witham, which is currently being investigated by police.
"The branch is closed and support is being offered to all staff.”
Police are now appealing for witnesses.
Officers were called to reports a security van driver was approached by a man with a firearm as he walked out of the Halifax branch in The Newlands at around 12.15 today.
The man threatened the driver, a man in his 40s, and made off in a silver/grey Rover with a box containing a five-figure sum of cash.
A silver/grey Rover was also found on fire in Blunts Hall Road, Witham and officers are investigating whether it is linked.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Essex Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
MP for Witham Priti Patel has said: “This incident is shocking and horrific and my thoughts are with the people directly affected by the robbery and the staff at Halifax.
"Our streets should be safe for people to walk down and businesses for people to work in.
"I know that the police will be working hard to identify and apprehend the perpetrators of this crime. Once caught, I expect them to face the full force of the law.”
Tina Townsend, chairman of Witham Chamber of Commerce, said: “Some of the business owners or managers here are scared, understandably, that they are going to be next.
“The ones that are owned by women in particular, and there are a lot, are more concerned. People are fed up of the crime.
“We have set up a petition to lobby the government for more police funding.
“We would like to see this discussed in parliament – how can you have so few police officers policing this area?”
Update 4.50pm: Police issue a description of the suspect:
The man is described as having a tanned complexion, was about 6ft tall, and wore an ankle length dark trench-style coat, dark glasses and a dark baseball cap.
Update 5pm: Head of Operational Risk at G4S, Gareth Skinner, has condemned the attack on one of its drivers:
"At 12.30pm, one of our cash couriers was attacked in Newlands Shopping Centre, Witham in Essex, after leaving a branch of HBOS. Fortunately our courier is uninjured but is badly shaken.
"Attacks on our employees are a serious matter and we will always seek the strongest possible penalties against those who threaten or harm our staff.
"We will work closely with the police to help them with their enquiries and I would urge anyone with information about this incident to come forward by calling 101.”
Update Friday 8.30am:
Lorne Campbell, manager at Newlands Shopping Centre said: "We are working closely with Essex Police police following the incident.
“I would like to stress that the centre remains open for business.
"We would like to thank Essex Police for their swift response.”