British detectives said on Monday they had launched an inquiry into claims police staff had been selling close-up pictures of a huge group of naked people who took part in a photo shoot for a U.S. artist.
Around 1,700 volunteers stripped off last July in Newcastle, northeastern England, for an installation by New York-based contemporary artist Spencer Tunick, known worldwide for his photographs of massed groups of naked people.
Northumbria police said they were investigating reports that pictures taken on the day from closed circuit television cameras were now being offered for sale in the area.
“We’ve spoken to a number of officers and police staff and as a result two (civilian) members of police staff have been suspended,” the force’s Deputy Chief Constable David Warcup said in a statement.
“If there is found to be any substance in these allegations we will take prompt and robust action. This is not the standard of behavior expected from anyone employed by Northumbria Police.”
Tunick has photographed thousands of naked people at many locations around the world including London, Montreal, Jerusalem and New York’s Time Square.
People from as far afield as Mexico and Australia joined Britons for last July’s dawn photo shoot on and around the Millennium Bridge which links Newcastle and the neighboring town of Gateshead.
“My heart goes out to the people who participated and braved the early morning and the cold weather today,” Tunick said at the time.
“I hope they feel like they’ve accomplished something this morning because I want them, and everyone, to know that I made some wonderful work here in Newcastle/Gateshead and I’m very excited to share the results with the public.”
The official pictures are on display at Gateshead’s Baltic art gallery.