Germany to Back Boot Camps

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, today gave her backing to a controversial plan to introduce boot camps and "warning shot" spells in prison for criminal youths.

Merkel said that the measures - sparked by an election-driven debate about young immigrants and violent crime - were necessary to give Germany an "atmosphere of basic security".

Her announcement followed an incident in which a pensioner was beaten up by two foreign youths, provoking national outrage and declarations by a Merkel ally that foreign youths were behind a growing wave of violent crime.

"Warning shot arrests and boot camps could clearly be a sensible complement to criminal law," the chancellor told a tabloid newspaper. "They could encourage young people to change and prevent them from getting sent to prison later."

At the weekend, Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) proposed a swathe of tougher laws to crack down on young criminals, including higher sentences and the swifter extradition of immigrant offenders.

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