(VicPD / Jay Wallace Images)

A recently released report surrounding the issue of repeat offenders and random attacks in BC offers a sweeping list of recommendations.

In May, the provincial government and BC Urban Mayors Caucus hired two experts in mental health and policing to provide a rapid analysis of the public safety challenges that BC is facing.

Authors of the report include Dr. Amanda Butler, who holds a PhD in Health Sciences from SFU, and Doug LePard, a retired VPD deputy chief.

The report says the province needs to invest heavily in non-police resources to address the mental health and substance use problems that have led to an increased perception of crime in communities, particularly when crimes are committed by people suffering from mental health illnesses.

The 14-page report makes a series of recommendations including bringing in a model used in the UK, a model that BC piloted between 2008 and 2012 which would divert people accused of crimes with serious mental disorders from the criminal system to the forensic system or low secure care.

Butler and LePard’s report examines several areas related to public safety and repeat offending, such as:

  • improving the system of care for people in the criminal justice system with mental-health and substance-use challenges
  • creating more opportunities to divert people from the criminal justice system
  • improving services for Indigenous Peoples
  • improving collaboration between partners, including community services, law enforcement and all levels of government
  • addressing repeat offending and improving public confidence in the justice system

“Currently, mental health-related crisis response in BC is primarily left to police and hospital emergency departments — both of which have been shown to contribute to adverse outcomes for people in crisis,” the report says.

“Research shows that the pandemic has worsened mental health and contributed to loneliness, substance use, suicide, disruptions in care, and financial difficulties.”

Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and solicitor general, says that British Columbians should feel safe in their neighbourhoods and businesses and those in need of help deserve should have access to the support they need.

A big part of the report is the recommendation that calls for improved collaboration between partners, community services, law enforcement, and all levels of government.

Another report from Butler and LePard will be released later this month.

You can read the report in its entirety here.

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