A disgraced police officer, who spent seven years building up a sickening collection of sexual images of children, is facing jail.
Ex-PC Lance Thomson, who served as a community beat manager, was dismissed from the force in August after the grotesque pictures were discovered on his home computer.
The officer, who had served with Lancashire Constabulary for 18 years, was arrested by officers from Preston in March on an unrelated matter for which he was never charged.
But during the probe, his computer was seized and examined.
The investigation found he had a total of 174 images of youngsters, ranging from level one to level four in seriousness.
Level five is the most serious.
Some images dated back to December 2003, while the more recent ones were from August 2009.
Thomson, who is married and has grown up stepchildren, was arrested at his home in Barrows Lane, Heysham, near Lancaster.
He had to be investigated by officers from a different police division - Preston - under police protocols.
He was charged with the offences in June and was sacked from the force in August.
In November, Thomson pleaded guilty to 15 charges of making indecent images of children during a hearing at Preston Crown Court.
He will be sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court today.
Det Supt Martyn Leveridge, of Lancashire Police, said: “It is our priority to protect and reassure the communities in Lancashire and in this case we have acted promptly to investigate Mr Thomson as criminal activity of any kind will not be tolerated, regardless of position or status.
“We are committed to protecting the most vulnerable in our society; this is a serious crime which we regard as a key priority.
“Lancashire Constabulary expects the highest professional standards of professionalism and integrity from all our staff and this individual’s conduct has fallen well short of these standards.
“This sort of behaviour and conduct lets everybody down – not just the police service but those that the police serve.
“It is appropriate that he has faced the consequences of his actions in court.
“Mr Thomson was arrested and suspended from duty in March while an investigation was conducted.
“The public of Lancashire can be reassured that any conduct such as this will be robustly investigated, and it must be remembered that the overwhelming majority of our staff take great pride in delivering a first class policing service.”
Thomson, an avid Morecambe FC supporter, served all his career in Northern Division.
He had served as a Community Beat Manager for Torrisholme and Bare.
Mark Barrow, divisional manager for Victim Support Lancashire and Cumbria, said: “Clearly it is unfortunate when anybody in a position of trust is found to have betrayed that trust and victims of all sorts of crimes find it incredibly difficult to come forward and we deeply regret anything that makes people feel less confident.
“We would encourage anybody who is a victim of crime to come forward to police but if they feel they can’t they can contact our support helpline.”
David Morris, the town’s Conservative MP, said: “I am disappointed such a prominent member of the community has done this terrible thing.”
Thomson was due to be sentenced yesterday but the hearing was adjourned until today.