POLICE are searching for a gunman who tried to hold up a Widnes town centre bank.

Detectives have issued CCTV stills following the attempted armed robbery at Santander, Albert Road, on Friday at 3.45pm.

The man, believed to be in his 40s or 50s, was holding a small black gun and demanded money from staff.

It is not yet known whether the gun was real or imitation as he fled the scene, towards the alleyway that leads to the market, after one of the cashiers raised the alarm.

He has been described as 5ft 5ins to 5ft 6ins tall, stocky build, had a pale complexion and spoke with a local accent.

He was wearing a blue baseball cap, dark coloured glasses and a dark coloured blue/green jacket.

DC Mark Naylor, who is investigating the incident, said: "Fortunately no-one was injured as a result of the incident but staff at the bank have been left extremely shaken by their ordeal.

"Incidents such as this are rare and, although no firearm was discharged and no injuries were reported, we take any incidents of this nature extremely seriously.

"The man was wearing a distinctive blue baseball cap with a Coral Bookmakers logo on it and was carrying a large red and white shopping bag.

“I am sure that someone out there will recognise this man and I would urge them to come forward."

Anyone with information should call Cheshire Police on 101 quoting incident 692 of August 17 2012 or anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.