THE mechanism with which Wiltshire police investigate users of child pornography is clearly badly broken.

For proof one only needs to consider the case of John Nixon from Wroughton, whose collection included 2,029 indecent images suggesting he had a preference for children as young as four.

In spite of his having told the officers who raided his home that he had images, it took the force two years to gather the evidence from his computer.

Nixon deserves no sympathy whatsoever. Each of the images he evidently enjoyed looking at so much represented a child abused and degraded, but Nixon regarded his pleasure as more important than their dignity and safety.

The court heard this despicable creature had lost his home, marriage and job, but that is all entirely his own fault.

Predictably, he was allowed to stroll free with the non-punishments of which courts are so fond when dealing with child pornography enthusiasts.

Of much greater concern, however, is the inexcusable delay in processing his computer.

As we have observed before, such delays prolong the agony of the innocent and also the freedom of the guilty from conviction.

Most horribly of all, every hour of every delay is potentially another hour of degradation suffered by children who have already suffered horrifically.

In some instances a delay might mean the difference between life and death.

The problem, of course, stems from the chronic underfunding of an overwhelmed police department whose services become more vital with each passing day.

While we should all recognise that truth, it would be reassuring if senior officers spoke out against it instead of spouting buzzword-laden platitudes about efficiency while blameless people suffer.