Police and Fire Service personnel attend a fire at a large
party in Hyde St on Saturday night, where four men were
arrested. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Police have warned students and other O-Week revellers
that anyone involved in lighting fires will be put before the
The warnings come after large parties and a couch fire in
Hyde St on Saturday night led to the arrest of four men.
Police were called to the notorious student hot spot just
before 11pm to clear partygoers and allow firefighters to
extinguish the blaze in the middle of the street, Senior
Sergeant Dave Scott said.
Of the four men arrested, one was a student. The 19-year-old
has been charged with lighting a fire and now faces an
uncertain academic future.
The others arrested included an 18-year-old electrician, of
Dunedin, charged with using offensive language, a 17-year-old
labourer, also of Dunedin, charged with obstruction, and a
19-year-old unemployed Gore man, charged with disorderly
''Any congregation in the student area always points to the
involvement of students but it doesn't mean the students are
the ones causing the issues. However, the fire lighter on
this occasion was a student and that is disappointing,'' Snr
Sgt Scott said.
Last year, police, in consultation with the University of
Otago, introduced a no-diversion policy for any offence
involving a fire.
''That sends a pretty strong message to anyone lighting
fires, particularly in the north area, that you won't be
given a slap on the hand with a wet bus ticket; you will be
off to the court to explain to the judge.''
Fires tied up emergency services' resources and ''potentially
it can turn quite serious, and it is luck rather than
anything else that one of these fires did not catch on to a
''They are putting their futures at risk by one stupid night
on the raspberries.''
Dunedin police alcohol harm reduction officer Sergeant Ian
Paulin said students dealt with by police would be referred
to the proctor.
''If you are arrested for an alcohol-related event, then you
will be fronting up in front of the proctor, first thing in
the ... morning,'' Sgt Paulin said.
This would probably result in expulsion if a student was
involved in lighting a fire.
''The message is, if you want to stay at university, you
don't go anywhere near a couch fire.''
Police would have additional staff rostered on during O-Week
and would carry out increased patrolling to make sure people
were safe and to enforce the central city liquor ban.
Breaches of the liquor ban could result in an infringement
Police would also be visiting licensed premises to ensure
they were complying with regulations in relation to
intoxicated or under-age patrons.
Police tips for having a good time during O-Week
• If you are going to be drinking alcohol, make a
plan before you leave home about how you are going to get
• Share a cab or walk home in a group.
• Look after your mates - if your friend has had
too much to drink, keep an eye on them and look after
• Don't let your friends wander off by
themselves. Stick together.
• Don't drink and drive - it puts your life, your
friends' lives and the lives of others at risk.