CARLISLE’S MP has maintained that the city and Cumbria as a whole are safe places to live, despite a rise in the number of armed robberies recorded.

A Freedom of Information request by the News & Star revealed that 64 of the 175 armed robberies committed in the county between 2015 and 2019 took place in the city.

The number of offences per year in Cumbria as a whole almost doubled from 2016 to 2019, rising from 26 to 51.

MP John Stevenson said residents were lucky to live in an area with low crime – but readers of the News & Star were keen to make their views on the issue heard.

Posting on Facebook, Adam Brady wrote: “It’s not just armed robbery that’s been a problem, some shops have faced loads of shoplifting since face coverings have been made mandatory.

“A lot of it has gone unreported as it’s just too much hassle to deal with, one reason being they can’t make out who it was and secondly for the time it takes to deal with it and nothing comes about.”

Others felt the justice system was too soft.

Lesley Ann said: “No one goes to prison anymore.I can remember armed robbery being a life sentence not that long ago.”

Debbie Cartwright added: “Maybe it has something to do with the fact they know there are no CCTV cameras in the town centre to catch them, and that if they get caught they get a smack on the wrist. No deterrent.”

Andrea Templeton said: “That’s because the law is pathetic and it’s too lenient with criminals,” while Denise Poland added: “The law is too soft on them.”

Cumbria Constabulary’s Detective Chief Inspector David Cooper said the force had a track record in securing long sentences for robberies. He said: “Recent notable examples involve two people involved in a shop robbery receiving a total of seven years imprisonment; an offender received a nine-year sentence for offences in Penrith; and a man received eight years for a commercial armed robbery.”