A woman is suing the police over allegations a female officer cut body piercings from her with a boltcutter after she had been arrested.

The Christchurch resident, who is in her 30s, claims five piercings were cut from her, including one from her genitalia.

She has accused the policewoman of unlawful sexual connection, assault, breach of the Bill of Rights and abuse of her position.

The officer said to be involved in the alleged incident has left the police.

The complainant's lawyer Tony Greig has asked for other people who allege to have experienced similar incidents to come forward.

The woman was arrested for obstruction in May 2009 after her partner had been stopped for drink-driving.

She is understood to have been told to remove her piercings and to have told police she could not.

It is understood both were acquitted.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said he could not comment because he was unaware of the case.

Professional piercers in Christchurch said they had heard of many incidents where people had piercings removed while in police custody.

Ink Grave manager Jeremy Spivey was arrested for drunk and disorderly behaviour and forced to remove his piercings for a night in the cell. Spivey said police did this to protect people from self-harm.

When Spivey could not get his ear piercing out the police took to it with some "tin snips".

"It's pretty ruthless, it's extremely uncomfortable," he said.

Southern Ink owner Kerry Parkin said he had seen customers scarred after a night in the cells: "I've had a lot of blokes in here who have had their eyebrow ones clean ripped out of their heads."

University of Otago Professor of Law Mark Henaghan said the alleged actions were "very unusual". The only justification for non-consensual interference with someone's body would be if they were going to harm themselves or someone else, he said.

"Protection of bodily integrity is a very important principle. To interfere with someone's body requires consent except in rare exceptions. A person's body is a no-go zone."

The case will be back before the court in May.