Jonathan Plummer, 35, denied the charges but was found guilty today at Leeds Crown Court of three counts of making indecent images of children, one count of distributing indecent images of children, one count of possession of extreme images and one count of possession of prohibited images.
He suggested that his electronic devices, in which the images were found, had been hacked and the photos planted.
He has been sentenced to two years imprisonment and made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and added to the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.
Plummer was suspended from duty at point of arrest in August 2018 and misconduct proceedings will now start.
Detective Constable Elkie Gardner, investigating officer in the Professional Standards Directorate, said: “Plummer was viewing and sharing thousands of indecent images and videos, including some of the most extreme nature.
“As a force, we have run safeguarding campaigns highlighting the impact of these crimes on victims, who talk about it feeling like they are being abused all over again every time their image is downloaded and shared.
“Colleagues from Wakefield District Safeguarding conducted a comprehensive investigation, which was further progressed by Professional Standards.
"Plummer refused to admit his guilt, but the evidence against him has ensured he has been convicted of these offences and that he will face the consequences of his actions.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Bottomley, head of West Yorkshire Police’s Professional Standards Directorate, said: “The sickening off-duty activities of this PCSO have shocked and appalled his colleagues and completely contradict the values and standards that both the Force and, quite rightly, the public would expect of any police employee.
“We take the possession and distribution of indecent images extremely seriously. I hope that this conviction demonstrates that no one is above the law and that we will take action against anyone involved in this abhorrent offending.
“PCSO Plummer was suspended from duty immediately on his arrest. Swift enquiries were made to confirm that his offending was not connected with his work as a PCSO and ensure that appropriate safeguards were in place. It was found that he had looked at police intelligence files in an attempt to cover up his own offending.
"Following his conviction, we will now progress with misconduct proceedings.”
A spokesperson for the children's charity, the NSPCC, said: “Plummer cynically, and for his own gratification, abused his position in the most shocking way.
"By obtaining and sharing these horrific images, he helped fuel a repulsive trade which creates victims across the world - a trade others in his former profession are working tirelessly to shut down.
“Plummer’s actions highlight how imperative it is that our children’s online world is as safe as possible.
"There is an urgent need for an Online Safety Bill which is robust enough to detect and prevent this abuse, and impose legal sanctions on tech firm directors whose companies fail to meet their duty of care and stop this vile trade in the first place. The NSPCC will continue to push the Government to ensure this Bill is fit for purpose.”
Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111. Adults with concerns about the wellbeing of a child can phone the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 8005000 or email [email protected]