'Boot camp' a risk: critics

THE State Opposition says "boot camps" to address Central Queensland's massive juvenile crime issues run the risk of "toughening" young offenders.

The Queensland Government yesterday announced it would trial its $2million youth boot camp in Cairns and on the Gold Coast.

If successful, the rehabilitation bid will be rolled out across the state - including in Rockhampton, which has some of the highest youth crime rates in Queensland.

Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne said the term "boot camp" suggested a highly militarised, disciplined model of rehabilitation.

"It has the potential to turn unruly young people into mentally tougher, physically hardened, and better organised offenders," Mr Byrne said.

The government said Cairns had the highest number of young offenders in detention - 15% compared to Rockhampton's 9%.

Detective Sergeant Scott Ingram, of Rockhampton police's property crime unit, said there were more young people breaking into property than adults.

But he said locking children up was not the answer.

"You can't give up on them, you've got to try different things," Det. Sergeant Ingram said.

"A lot of the kids are young and just haven't had the opportunity other kids have had.

"For some of them, being in detention seems like a better option than being at home."

Topics:  boot camp juvenile crime

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