A Dunedin policeman is nursing a sore face after an alleged robber threw a bottle at him while fleeing a crime scene in the central city yesterday.

A witness said the man appeared to be carrying boxes of alcohol he had taken from a nearby liquor store, and was being chased by Sergeant Nathan White about 3.30pm, when the offender threw a bottle at the sergeant's head.

Another witness said an officer tasered the offender soon after, and apprehended him near the corner of Bond and Water Sts.

"He went down pretty hard.''

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White was left bleeding and in pain, and was supported by fellow officers until an ambulance arrived.

A 20-year-old man was arrested and will appear in the Dunedin District Court today, on several charges.

Otago coastal area commander Inspector Jason Guthrie said police were called to an alleged robbery in Princes St about 3.20pm.

"Shortly afterwards, police located and approached a person of interest on Bond St.

"In the course of attempting to apprehend the man, police deployed OC spray and a taser.

"An experienced male officer unfortunately sustained moderate facial injuries after he was allegedly assaulted with a weapon while apprehending the man.''

Guthrie said White was treated at Dunedin Hospital and later released.

"He has indicated his desire to return to work at the earliest opportunity.

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"He is in good spirits, despite his injuries.''

Guthrie commended Sgt White and the attending officers for dealing with the incident so promptly.

"Police regularly display significant courage in situations that challenge their personal safety, and this is a great example of that.

"However, it is extremely disappointing to have an officer injured in this way.''

He said White would be well supported by his colleagues and the New Zealand Police welfare network.

A full investigation of the wider circumstances surrounding the original incident has started.

New Zealand Police Association president Chris Cahill said assaults on police were not rare, but they were decreasing.

"Overall assaults have decreased slightly in the last few years, and probably that's a combination of multiple things.

"Obviously we've got pepper-spray these days, and the deployment of Tasers has also helped.

"What we have noticed is the seriousness of assaults has increased.

"We seem to have had a bad run of them around the country.

"Over Christmas we had a police officer with a serious bite, another had his eye socket broken and a few other things like that - certainly not something that anyone should have to put up with going to work, just because you're a police officer.

"You don't sign up to get assaulted.''