WATCH: A man accused of travelling to Victoria to sexually abuse a five-year-old child has been released on bail under several strict conditions. April Lawrence reports.
They’re among the most vulnerable members of our society, but children are facing a growing threat on the other side of their computer screens.
“It’s a really really terrible, dark part of our world.”
Sergeant Kristi Ross heads up the Victoria Police Special Victims Unit and says internet child exploitation is more common than most people think.
“It’s the one area in crime I believe that is rising, everything else is going down,” she said.
On Friday, SVU detectives arrested a 61-year-old Edmonton man who had allegedly travelled to Victoria to sexually abuse a five-year-old child.
Police say they had their sights on the suspect the entire time and made the arrest upon his arrival in Victoria.
They say at no point was the public or a five-year-old child ever at risk.
Brian Steve Bandura is now charged with making an arrangement to commit a sexual offence against someone he believed to be under 16, and making or possessing child pornography.
Both offences are alleged to have taken place between April 6 and May 27th 2016.
Bandura has been released on bail under several strict conditions including no contact with minors, or accessing the internet.
Sergeant Ross said this isn’t the first case of child sex tourism Victoria Police has investigated.
“It’s not just people travelling to third world countries to abuse children put up for sale due to poverty, this is happening everywhere,” she said.
Victoria Police has one officer dedicated to investigating internet child exploitation, but Ross said this rising area of crime needs more resources.
“It takes a lot of police resources and a lot of public support to have the resources and the training and the skill to detect, investigate, arrest and protect children,” said Ross.
Ross says there are online resources where people can learn how to protect their children, and look out for signs of abuse, including the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.
Bandura will make his next court appearance at the Victoria Law Courts June 22nd.