Police called on grandfather who took child swimming

A Sydney man whose granddaughter took off her clothes for a spontaneous swim at the beach was alarmed when the police arrived to investigate.

Seventy-year-old Leo (who chose not to disclose his surname) told Fairfax media he was babysitting for the girl's parents at Balmoral Beach when six-year-old Emma decided to go for a swim.

"She didn't stop beaming from the time she got in to the time she got out," he said.

But shortly after helping his granddaughter get dressed, Leo was approached by police.

"They wanted my name; they took my identification. They also talked to Emma and asked her name and date of birth. They informed me a complaint had been lodged."

Police quickly established that the situation was innocent, but the girls' family told the Sydney Morning Herald they wished the anonymous complainant had approached Leo personally, rather than going to the police.

The girl's mother was particularly concerned about the impact the incident had had on her daughter. "I did something wrong, I'm in trouble," the girl reportedly told her mother that night.

"This was a child in her element... It's not long before she'll lose that and become more body conscious," her mother said.

NSW Police Detective Acting Superintendent Linda Howlett responded to the mother's concerns that "people are getting too paranoid".

"It's better to be safe than sorry," she said. "If a member of the public does see something that causes them concern, we encourage them to contact police and we will follow that up."

If you think a child or young person is at risk of harm from abuse or neglect, contact police or the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 (TTY 1 800 212 936).