Student parties in the Christchurch suburb of Riccarton are out of control, Christchurch police say.
A Riccarton party that was broken up last weekend prompted several youths to contact The Press to complain about a heavy-handed police response.
Police hit back at the claims, saying the response was justified and that out-of-control student parties were becoming too common in the suburb.
Sergeant Dave Joker, of the tactical policing unit, said police were asked to help the Fire Service gain access to a Euston St property last Saturday night to put out a backyard bonfire.
Police told more than 100 partygoers to disperse but were "pelted with bottles".
Officers then cleared the property using pepper spray.
"I need to protect my staff," Joker said.
"One of the options we use is to spray them."
Police left the party about 2.30am after arriving just before midnight, he said.
"Student parties are a major problem in the Riccarton area. It's becoming all too frequent," Joker said.
"I have had enough because they waste so much of our resources."
Inspector Malcolm Johnson said police were under pressure to clear parties as quickly as possible. "We don't have time to argue the point with everyone," he said.
We had to clear the place out and move on to the next job."
Hayley Gillespie, 19, Joe Holmes, 20, and Will Appelbe, 20, were at the Euston St party.
Holmes and Gillespie said they were sitting outside with about 20 other partygoers when police arrived about 1am on Sunday.
"We were sitting down and there was a wall of about 10 police coming towards me," Gillespie said.
"I got up to move and I got hit in the back of the head and knocked to the ground.
"I tried to get back up, and they said `move' again, and they hit me again."
She was hit four times and pepper-sprayed in the eyes, she said.
She and Holmes quickly left the house, and Appelbe also fled when police arrived," Gillespie said.
Appelbe said: "I understand why the party got shut down.
"It was late at night and causing a bit of noise, but the way they shut it down was completely unreasonable."
Holmes said: "I wouldn't have minded if they just came in with their shields and told us to get out.
"We weren't causing a threat at all."
Police spoke to Canter-bury University staff yesterday about the party problem.
The university's new community relations manager, John MacDonald, said he had taken up the role to ensure residents were able to contact the university about their concerns.
Canterbury University students were not the only people involved in the parties, he said.
"It's the sort of behaviour that is not condoned, and where students are identified they are referred to formal disciplinary procedures," MacDonald said.
The Christchurch City Council will next month consider a liquor ban in Ilam.
- The Press