12/18/2014 03:14 EST | Updated 02/17/2015 05:59 EST

B.C. reports call for crime-fighting boss, job training for inmates

VICTORIA - British Columbia needs to appoint a crime-fighting boss who can cut through provincial, municipal and social bureaucracies to build unified crime-prevention teams, say government reports released Thursday.

Two reports by Liberal MLAs Darryl Plecas and Laurie Throness focus on preventing crime in communities and keeping inmates from returning to jail.

The Plecas report makes six recommendations, stating that the clearest message from 14 roundtable meetings and input from 600 people calls for improved collaboration and co-ordination on crime prevention programs across B.C.

"While many presenters were proud of the results they saw in their communities, there was frequent mention of disjointed approaches, fragmented interventions, and the propensity of many professionals to work in 'silos' isolated from each other," the report said.

"There is clearly a need for a provincewide interagency collaboration model that supports the development of local partnerships. Provincial and municipal governments should actively work to break down bureaucratic silos."

Plecas urged the government to appoint "a senior crime reduction leader to improve interagency collaboration across the wide range of crime reduction activities in B.C."

A Justice Ministry statement said the government will consider a pilot project to test that recommendation.

Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said in a statement that the government is already following through on many of the recommendations.

She said the province "will consider and act upon additional initiatives, in the context of available funding, to make British Columbia's streets and correctional facilities even safer."

Plecas, who is a criminologist, was appointed in September 2013 to convene a panel of experts to find ways to drive down B.C.'s crime rate.

He recommended more focus on reducing crime by repeat offenders, expanding services for addicted and mentally ill inmates and increasing the use of restorative justice.

In another report on B.C.'s corrections system, Throness said the province should expand job training for offenders so they can be employed as they transition back into society.

He also called for ways to address the root causes of repeat offences and strategies to increase safety for inmates while they're in custody and in the community.