The AFP says some of its officers were “caught up in the moment” when they helped singer Lily Allen stage a fake arrest at Gold Coast Airport on Sunday.

Australian Federal Police officers who handcuffed Lily Allen at Gold Coast Airport as part of an Instagram prank gone wrong are now the subject of an internal investigation.

The 29-year-old British singer landed at the Queensland airport on Sunday afternoon before her headline performance at Splendour In The Grass near Byron Bay, in northern NSW, that night.

After stepping off the Qantas flight she was greeted by fans and several Federal Police officers, one of whom broke protocol by obliging Allen’s request to be put in handcuffs for a photo.

The snap of the fake arrest, posted on Allen’s Twitter account to her near 4.8 million followers, shows the pop star kneeling down with her head bowed as one officer holds her cuffed hands behind her back.

An AFP spokesman confirmed Allen was being escorted through the terminal when the photo was taken, adding that the incident is now subject to “internal processes”.

“At her request, the members involved placed open handcuffs on Ms Allen for a photo opportunity,” the spokesman said on Monday.

“It appears the members involved were caught up in the moment and standard protocols were breached.”

The image, which was captioned “#uhoh”, garnered more than 7700 likes on Instagram and hundreds of retweets before it was taken down.

Allen, who performed at sideshows in Melbourne and Sydney last week, dazzled the North Byron Parklands crowd on Sunday night.

She last performed in Australia in 2009 at the Big Day Out.

Gold Coast City Councillor Dawn Crichlow said the stunt wasn’t a good look.

“I don’t appreciate a photo of … police playing around with their handcuffs,” she told Fairfax radio.

“It’s bad that the federal police allowed this to happen and they should be hauled over the coals.

“Just a bit of fun would have been to give her the police cap and have a photo taken like that, that would have been fun.”