A Hastings school was in lockdown this afternoon as police responded to reports of men with air rifles in the area.

A police spokesman confirmed police were called to Cambridge St, Mayfair, at 2.11pm after receiving reports of males with an air rifle.

They remain tight-lipped and the spokesman said he understood the job could be ongoing.

Paul Melloy, the principal of St John's College, which is in the area, said the school had received a phone call from police asking them to put the school in lockdown.

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The emergency procedure was followed for 25 minutes until police notified the school the lockdown could be lifted.

The principal did not say what the incident was.

Nearby dairy, Jervois Foodcentre owner Jay Kaur said she had not been told what had happened but was stopped from driving down the street to work by officers.

"There was a police officer with a gun and two others on the other corners."

She said that time of day was usually a bustling time of trade but no customers came into the store because they were not allowed to drive down the street.

From 2.30pm the police had stayed in the area for about half an hour, Mrs Kaur said, but they left when St John's College students began filing out at the end of school.

Some students had told her that they had heard the dairy had been robbed.

Still none the wiser, she said "they [the police] should have told us what had happened".

In addition to the college and dairy there is also a preschool in the residential area.