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'Armed robbery' at West Hampstead post office

PUBLISHED: 09:40 22 September 2017 | UPDATED: 12:29 04 October 2017

The Sherriff centre was attacked by robbers last week

The Sherriff centre was attacked by robbers last week

Archant

Robbers attacked the post office inside the Sherriff centre in West Hampstead yesterday.

Robbers armed with knives threatened staff and made off with a large quantity of cash at a post office in West Hampstead.

Police were called at around 1pm to the Sherriff Centre inside St James church on September 21 after reports of a moped gang entering the premises and robbing the till.

It is the third time the centre has been attacked and has prompted calls for security measures as the Sherriff Centre, which is home to a children’s play area and creche, Hullabaloo.

One mother, who asked not to be named, described fearing she was about to be mugged after a group of men all dressed in black pulled up on three mopeds outside the centre where she was waiting to pick up her son from the neighbouring nursery.

“I knew something awful was going to happen. I was absolutely terrified. I didn’t know what was going to happen,” she said.

As she was making a 999 call she saw people flee from inside the church moments after the robbers had rushed in.

“Everyone was really distressed. The centre staff were amazing, helping people get out.”

The eyewitness, who was with her 16-month-old daughter at the time of the robbery, said: “It’s a really super community centre. It’s sad to think that could be put in jeopardy. People have been saying for a while it’s a security risk. But they are looking to put extra security measures in.”

Australian author Wendy Waters was in the post office at the time of the robbery. She tweeted: “Brave staff handled this with extraordinary calm” and added “it was very scary. Time stood still, tested my ability to stay calm.”

No one was hurt in the incident. A security guard has now been stationed outside the centre who will ‘remain for the forseeable future’.

The Sherriff Centre has also announced that only one counter will be open at the post office for the time being.

In January 2016, a robber attacked a security van driver, snatching £6,000 he was delivering. Later that year in September, a man grabbed cash from the post office till.

No arrests have been made yet following the robbery and enquiries continue. If you witnessed the robbery, contact police by quoting reference 2328659/17.

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