Victoria police have received dozens of calls from parents concerned that a sex offender who poses a significant risk to young girls is living in the community.
The department warned on Thursday that sex offender James Douglas Campbell, 63, is living in a halfway house in Victoria. Campbell poses a significant risk of harm to girls five to 12 years old, the department said.
Since that news, more than 40 people have called to express concern that a sex offender had been released.
Parents have been asking what they can do, said Victoria police spokesman Const. Mike Russell, so the department is offeriing some common safety tips.
• Children, especially younger children, should walk or bike to school in groups of three or more.
• Children should report any suspicious behaviour to a trusted adult or to police immediately.
• If going home alone, lock your door behind you when you get inside.
• Keep a keen eye out, not only for your own children, but for others.
• Don’t be afraid to intervene if you see a child who appears to be in need of help.
In one case, Campbell sexually assaulted a girl, who was not known to him, as she was on her way to school. Campbell, who is on parole, is serving 24 years for sexual assault, breaking and entering, forcible confinement and weapons offences.
The Greater Victoria school district sent a notice to parents and teachers alerting them of Campbell’s release. School district superintendent John Gaiptman said schools also received the safety tips and will be sending them out to parents and staff on Tuesday.
“I think parents by and large were appreciative of the Victoria Police Department for informing us,” Gaiptman said.
Russell said the department had no influence on Campbell’s release.
“Some people thought we went and unlocked the cell door,” Russell said. “We don’t have a say in where he goes or whether he’s released or not.”
Campbell must not consume alcohol or other intoxicants, must not be in the company of any child under the age of 18 without a guardian present, must reside at a halfway house in Victoria and must remain in the capital region.
He also must not go near schools, playgrounds, parks, arcades or anywhere else that children could be expected to gather.
“Although VicPD has serious concerns whenever high-risk offenders are released into our community, we are committed to working with our community partners and the public in order to monitor Campbell as he completes the remainder of his sentence,” the department said in a statement.