AN Essex Police officer is facing a jail term after admitting having 1,600 indecent images of children.

Clive Hansen, 53, pleaded guilty to three counts of making indecent photographs when he appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates Court, in Ipswich.

A total of 17 images were Category A - the most serious grading. One of the counts refers to 26 Category B images, while the remaining 1,576 photographs were Category C - the least serious grading.

Hansen, of Borrowdale Close, Benfleet, also pleaded guilty to possession of a prohibited image of a child.

All of the offences took place on October 30 last year, the court heard.

Three days later the police online investigation team acted on information that Hansen, a serving police constable, was in possession of indecent images of children.

He was arrested the same night outside his home and taken into police custody.

Computer equipment was seized from his home, including a white Acer laptop on which images were found. The children in the photos ranged in age from eight to 14.

The court was told the aggravating features in the case involve Hansen being a police officer and the offence being a serious breach of trust.

Magistrates agreed that the offences and aggravating factors involved were beyond their sentencing powers and sent the case to crown court. Magistrates can hand out a maximum prison sentence of 12 months.

Hansen was given conditional bail. A date for his sentencing at Ipswich Crown Court has not yet been set.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “PC Clive Hansen pleaded guilty to three counts of making indecent images of children and one count of possessing a prohibited image at Ipswich Magistrates court yesterday Monday, February 13.

He is currently suspended from his position as an officer and will remain so until the conclusion of the criminal case and any misconduct proceedings.”

Hansen was based at Rayleigh police station before his arrest last year.

During his career he led Horsewatch, a scheme set up to protect the animals and their owners from theft.

He has also been involved in promoting youth services to the public and stamping out antisocial behaviour.