Big Brother Watching: Nude Photos Up for Sale?

ByABC News
March 22, 2006, 1:41 PM

March 22, 2006 — -- Days after American artist Spencer Tunick snapped photos of mass nudity in Venezuela, police on another continent have investigated whether department colleagues have hawked close-ups from one of the photographer's last "all-in-the-flesh" shoots in England.

Police questioned a number of officers and police staff after receiving a tip that members of the staff did more than just observe the closed-circuit footage of the 1,700 people baring all in Newcastle on a cool morning in July 2005.

"If there is found to be any substance in these allegations, we will take prompt and robust action," said Deputy Chief Constable David Warcup in a prepared statement.

So far, two members of the Northumbria force have been suspended.

Police press officer Andrew Ward wouldn't give any other details into "the possible misuse of CCTV footage" but said that those suspended were civilian staff members, not police officers.

Apparently, staffers were shopping around stills from the TV images, according to published reports.

"This is not the standard of behavior expected from anyone employed by Northumbria police," said Warcup, who oversees a staff of 4,000 police and 1,600 civilians. "We have worked extremely hard over the years to ensure that the public can have confidence in the way in which we manage CCTV, and we are determined that confidence will not be undermined."

Nearly 200 cameras dot the Northumbria area, which spans 2,000 square miles and counts about 1.5 million people.

It seems some of the closed-circuit televisions focused on the group of nudes, along with Tunick's lens, on July 17, 2005.

Tunick, a New York artist, has traveled the globe shooting crowds of naked people. His most recent feat involved gathering more than 1,500 people in the nude in Caracas, Venezuela, and in September 1,000 people stripped bare near Lyon, France, for art's sake. In June 2003, Tunick broke his own personal best by snapping 7,000 Spaniards in the buff in Barcelona.