Kiddie crims rack up $600K bill for jail repairs

Young detainees at a Townsville detention centre have racked up more than $600,000 in property damages over the last few years, as the opposition slams the government for its "soft" tactics.

It comes as Cleveland Youth Detention Centre closed in on its capacity after detainee numbers doubled in a matter of weeks, leaving a handful of beds spare as the centre's quarterly report showed room for improvement in multiple areas.

In a Question on Notice last month the Department of Child Safety revealed juveniles caused $635,774 in damages to property and televisions from July, 2016 to March 23 this year at the Townsville centre.

Brisbane Youth Detention Centre recorded significantly higher costs for damaged property while Cleveland detainees racked up a hefty bill for damaged televisions; a contrasting observation as a result of two "very different" cohorts.

More than $50,000 was spent replacing damaged television sets in the same period of time at the Townsville centre, with nearly $18,000 spent in the last financial year.

Cleveland Youth Detention Centre is housing about 100 juvenile detainees, with numbers fluctuating daily.
Cleveland Youth Detention Centre is housing about 100 juvenile detainees, with numbers fluctuating daily.


The Department of Child Safety said its process was to replace an entire television set once a detainee destroyed the rear toggle switch, which was believed to be the main method of damaging the device.

It recently sourced replacement parts to fix this switch rather than purchase a new television, but Leader of the Opposition Deb Frecklington said this was not enough.

"Taxpayers shouldn't be forking out almost $100,000 a month (according to data for both centres) to fix damage caused by young criminals trashing youth detention centres," she said.

"If property like TVs are broken, they shouldn't be replaced- they should be removed altogether."

A spokesman from the Youth Justice Department said previous trauma, mental health issues and behaviour complexity were all factors which could impact a young detainee to lash out.

"This is no excuse for damage to be caused, however it gives us an understanding of why their behaviour can sometimes escalate," he said.

Additional measures to "hold young people to account" were also among security upgrades and alternate infrastructure to reduce incidents.

In 2018-19, $2.36 million was spent on general repairs and maintenance at Cleveland Youth Detention Centre.

More than $11 million in capital works was also spent at the centre in the same period of time.

The cost of the repairs often included improvements to fixtures and furnishings to improve security and upkeep of the centres.

Originally published as Kiddie crims rack up $600K bill for jail repairs