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Crime and Punishment Vocabulary with Pronunciation

The most common crime and punishment vocabulary with audios for pronunciation. This word list covers crimes, criminals, punishment, court proceedings and other useful words to write and talk about the topic of crime. Practice the words with the vocabulary exercise at the bottom of the page.

Types of Crime: Major & Minor Crime Vocabulary

These crimes are divided into crimes which are considered serious and those that are not.

Major Crimes

The list of crimes below are all nouns.

  • abduction = taking someone against their will (kidnapping)
  • arson = setting fire to a property
  • assault = a physical attack
  • burglary = illegal entry to a building with an intent to commit a crime
  • child abuse = maltreatment of a child
  • drug trafficking = importing illegal drugs
  • false imprisonment = imprisoning a person against their will and without legal authority
  • fraud = deception for personal or financial gain
  • hacking = unauthorised access to data in a computer system
  • hijacking = illegally getting control of an aircraft or vehicle
  • human trafficking = illegally transporting people, usually for slave labour or commercial sexual exploitation
  • premeditated murder = murder that is intentional (planned before hand)
  • unpremeditated murder – murder that is not intentional (not planned)
  • manslaughter – unintentional murder (synonym for unpremeditated murder)
  • attempted murder = planning to kill another person
  • patricide = killing one’s own father
  • genocide = systematic killing of a race or religious group
  • euthanasia = killing someone for their benefit
  • organised crime = crime by an organised gang or organisation
  • smuggling = illegal import or export
  • terrorism = unlawful violence or threat with political aims
  • white collar crime = financially motivated non-violent crime by a worker

Minor Crimes / Offences

  • pick pocketing = taking from another person’s pockets
  • shoplifting = taking products from a shop without paying for them
  • traffic offences =breaking the rules of the road and driving
  • drunk driving = driving whilst under the influence of alcohol
  • jay walking = crossing the road at an undesignated spot
  • running a red light = going through traffic lights when they are red
  • speeding = driving over the speed limit
  • vandalism = deliberate destruction or damage to a building

Vocabulary for Criminals

This list shows the person relating to the crime (the perpetrator of the crime).

  • crime = criminal
  • murder = murderer
  • theft = thief
  • trafficking = trafficker
  • hijacking = hijacker
  • terrorism = terrorist
  • smuggling = smuggler
  • shoplifting = shoplifter
  • vandalism = vandal
  • teenage criminal/ juvenile delinquent

Types of Punishment Vocabulary

  • the death penalty (capital punishment) = punishment of death
  • life in prison
  • a suspended sentence = delaying of a sentence
  • forfeiture = property is taken away (confiscated)
  • hospital order = to confine someone to hospital under arrest
  • a fine = to pay money as a punishment for an offence
  • house arrest = imprisoned in one’s own house rather than in prison
  • to suspend a license = withholding a person’s right to use their driving license for a period of time
  • to revoke a license = to take away someone’s driving license
  • community service = punishment by doing community work

Other Types of Punishment

This refers to punishment commonly used by schools and parents.

  • detention = to stay in school after hours for punishment
  • to give lines = punishment where a child must write the same sentence again and again
  • isolation = to be kept apart from others as a punishment
  • grounding = to be unable to go outside home as a punishment
  • scolding = an angry reprimand
  • corporal punishment = physical punishment from a teacher or headteacher at school

Court Language

  • judge = the person who controls the court proceedings
  • jury = a group of independent people who decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty
  • justice = fairness or court law
  • trial = legal proceedings to judge whether someone is guilty of a crime
  • court = the place where the trial is held
  • defendant = the accused person: the individual or group being accused in court of a crime
  • prosecutor = the lawyer against the accused person
  • defense = the lawyer protecting the accused person
  • witness = a person who sees an event happen
  • evidence = facts or information supporting the truth
  • proof = evidence supporting a claim
  • hearsay = rumour / unsubstantiated information
  • guilty = not innocent as judged by a court of law
  • innocent = found not guilty of a crime
  • to be found guilty = the court decided that the person did commit the crime
  • conviction / verdict = formal sentence of a court
  • circumstances of the crime = a condition or situation relating to a crime
  • extenuating circumstances = a condition that makes the crime or mistake less serious and more understandable
  • take into consideration = should be thought about carefully
  • circumstantial evidence = something that connects a person indirectly to the crime (for example, a finger print at a crime scene but no actual hard evidence or witness)
  • maximum / minimum sentence = highest penalty / lowest penalty
  • a harsh punishment = hard, strict penalty
  • penalty / punishment are synonyms but penalty is often used for both minor offences and major crimes.

Other Useful Crime & Punishment Vocabulary

  • crime is prevalent = there is a lot of crime
  • armed police = police who carry guns
  • to deter (n = deterrent) = to put someone off from doing something
  • discrimination = unjust treatment
  • to be soft on crime = not to have harsh or strict punishments
  • repeat offender = a person who has committed a crime or offence more than once
  • serial criminals = criminals who repeatedly commit the same crime
  • diminished responsibility = when someone is not in a state to be considered responsible for their own actions
  • rehabilitation = to restore someone through education or therapy
  • reintegrate back into society = help someone return into society
  • peer pressure = pressure from friends or colleagues
  • role models = people whose behaviour should be copied and respected
  • mimicking violent behaviour = to copy aggressive actions

Practice Exercises with Crime Vocabulary

Complete the sentences using one or more words either from the above lists or from other vocabulary relating to this topic. The sentence must be grammatically correct once you have added the right word(s).

  • The ………………. is the strongest deterrent against crime.
  • The number of ……………….. is on the rise due to the impact of peer pressure at school and violent movies shown on TV. Teenagers are prone to ……………. aggressive behaviour.
  • All people accused of a crime should be given a fair ……………. in a ………… of law.
  • People who are convicted a murder from only ………………………. evidence should not receive the death penalty.
  • The motives of a crime should always be taken into consideration. For example. there is a significant difference in the character of a person who commits ……………… murder and one who commits accidental murder.
  • A ………….. sentence is more humane than capital punishment.
  • Punishment should be the last resort. Instead criminals should be  …………………….
  • People who commit ……….. crimes, such as traffic offences, should have their ……………….. revoked.
  • Famous people, such as movie stars, should set a good ………… and ensure that they are good …………….. for young people to follow.
  • …………… and the right to a fair ……………. should be the right of all citizens.
  • Parents who inflict ……………… punishment on their children are showing children that …………….. is an acceptable way to deal with problems.
  • Prison does not rehabilitate criminals, it only …………. them from society.   …………….. service and rehabilitation is a better way to avoid criminals becoming ………………….
  • death penalty (the answer can’t be “capital punishment” because it doesn’t use the article “the”)
  • juvenile delinquents / mimic
  • trial / court
  • circumstantial
  • premeditated
  • rehabilitated
  • minor / licenses
  • example / role models
  • Justice / trial
  • corporal / violence
  • removes / Community / repeat offenders


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Reporing on crimes every day on TV only encourages criminals to copy. School schootingns have been very seldom reported until recently and they encourage more crimes than there used to be.COPYING is a serious problem. The press should be more subtle in reporting crimes.

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Awesome, thanks

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Awesome!!! Thanks!!!

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U are so adorable and passionate teacher. I hope you a happy life and hope that I get a high bandscore in my upcoming test

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Liz, you are a exceptional person.

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Hey Liz. This was a great help, I learned a lot of new things which is definitely a help for my exam

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Thank you ma’am. There is a lot to learn

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What is the difference between Convict and Sentence?

To convict is about finding someone guilty. To sentence is about passing the punishment.

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Your site is very useful mam for us thanks post new things

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Superb, good job

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i found this page and topic very interesting..As a matter of fact i have learnt lots of vocab i havent heard in the last 40 yrs.KUDOS

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Thanks a lot! It’s been very useful to prepare my class. Your work is great!

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I love you LIZ! you truly are a blessing. Thank you for your generosity and benevolence! I

Happy New Year 🙂

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I definitely enjoyed your lesson. Thanks Liz

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I enjoy it. Thanks

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hi Liz, in this portion of vocabulary you can also add words like: felon-felony, sadist, turncoat, traitor, heinous crime, renegade

also in educational vocabulary words like; freshers/freshman – 1st year college student sophomore – 2nd year college student veteran – final year student

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Hi Liz, why there is no explanation for ‘human trafficking’ in the above given list?? Thank you so much for all your wonderful works. Keep going..

Thanks for letting me know – I just added it 🙂

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Hii lizz.. What does vanadlism means ??

Sry vandalism

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It denotes destruction of property (usually public property).

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It is really interesting. Very useful for students.

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Excellent resource!

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yes buddy !

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Hi Liz, Please heck the meanings of drunk driving and jay walking. Drunk driving is driving under the influence of drinks. But the meaning does not say that. Also, jay walking. It should be walking at an undesignated spot and not designated spot.

Thanks for spotting my typos. They have been corrected.

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You are really wonderful and co-operative teacher. Your teaching technique will be helpful to all the IELTS student. Thank you very much. y

You’re welcome 🙂

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hello liz i am following your website from few days i am glad to follow your website, but i am unable to improve my writing skills especially in writing task 2 mainly i am lagging in vocabulary and sentence structure. my exam in a week to go so please consider my request and suggest me to improve my writing skills

Your problem is relating to English, not IELTS. If your English language is weak, find an English language website to help you:

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Hi ! Can I paraphrase the words “teenage crime” with “juvenile delinquency” ? Thank you in advance!

Sure. It’s not 100% the same but close enough depending on the essay question.

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Good afternoon, dear Liz! I’ve got a question. Why is it written “the motives of a crime should always be TAKING into consideration…” in the exercising (sent. 5). I can’t make heads or tails of it) Explain it to me, please!

Well spotted! It’s a typo. I don’t have time to do proof reading. Sorry for any confusion.

Thank you a lot!!!! I appreciate your help!

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Hi! Liz This is didar. I’m very pleased to get your topics and video….Where can i get answer speaking part 2… please Answer me?

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hi elizabeth liz, i am amanpreet singh, i love you’re website and i really appreciate you for helping a lot for ielts exam.i love you’re kindness and smartness.if i get a chance i really want to meet you and make you my best friend.thank you.i wish you all the best for further giving knowledge to students for ielts and wish you best of luck for life.goodbye see you.ha ha ha ha ha happy happy happy happy all the time because i always true love and believe in “God”.God is the owner of the world.

Thanks for your support 🙂

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Ma’am. You’re really Awesome. Great. I love the way you speak , Your charming smile. I love you. You’re doing a wonderful job. May God fulfill your dreams and wishes. God bess you. Thank you. Shefali.

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In listening test I’m not able to grasp some difficult words so what can i do to improve that?

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Hi dear Liz my name is Christine!i really appreciate you!could you say me please gow could i Copy your lessons?

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I really appreciate your effort. I am trying to get Band 8. Do you think the materials you have presented are still useful for people are targeting this score? Thanks Ali

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Thank you very much for your fruitful tips and lesson and I become a fan are requested to take love with respect from Bangladesh by khan Mehedi .

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My xam was on 10th oct..really in tension..

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I mean scholarship by reduction fee

You must ask the requirements of the scholarship. Each one is different. All the best Liz

Hi Liz finally i received my ielts certificate which has 6.0 band score with your lessons and useful comments.What do you think can i take reduction fee with that result in university degree?

Sorry, I don’t understand “reduction fee”. Liz

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I m abdul hameed.frist for all my related ielts friends i hops you are good afterthat my very nice teacher liz you are good teacher of ietls and i keep truest you will help from ielts exam than i will take exam next month.your any student do prepration ielts with me my skype id. hameedKarachi

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Hi Liz, Your teaching methods are really awesome and one can easily grasp. It is very useful for everyone who writes IELTS. I got 6 in first attempt by going through your website for last two weeks only. Thank you for your website and teaching. Muthu Manikandan

Well done!. Band 6 is a good result. I’m glad my blog was useful 🙂 Liz

Thanks a lot. I was really struggling in all areas of the test especially listening. I wanted to thank you with my result as I was confident in my result after going through the website 🙂

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That’s really nice, you’re a world-class teacher.

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I have already gone through and listened the audio too. I know many words but giving the meaning for it is too great! I have learnt a lot from those vocabs!

Thanking you so much.

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Dear teacher, I’d like to ask some questions that make me brainstorm. What is the difference between ” traffic warden” and ” traffic police”? Could you explain it to me, please? Thanks a million!

A traffic warden is a uniformed official working with parking offences – not part of the police. The traffic police are police who work with traffic offences, traffic accidents and any crime involving traffic. All the best Liz

Thank You very much. So, it’s not the same traffic warden and traffic police. Best Regards, Romeo.

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Hi , Liz I am a new student for ielts preparation I do have only basic English I have started an ielts course 2 weeks ago but it’s not enough to emprove my English for university I have relised that your methods to explain vocabulary is fantastic And easy I would like to ask you PLZ if I can contact you private about teaching me Thank u in advance and sorry for any mistake that I committed

I wish I had the time but unfortunately, I don’t have time for private lessons this year. There are quite a lot of websites with free English grammar and vocabulary. See my useful websites page in the IELTS Extra section. I’m glad you’re thinking about your level of English – it is critical for success in IELTS. All the best Liz

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you are a wonderful teacher , really ,thank you a lot from Iraq. how could i use these vocabs in the essay writing or speaking section ?

You can use these words for both speaking and writing. All the best Liz

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Criminals got lots of choices here Liz. I love all your lectures. Ta!

Yes, it was weird writing such a long list of crimes and criminals 🙂

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It’s really useful words not just for IELTS but for general speaking English. May I thank you Liz and we hope you carry on with this way to let us clamb this mountain. We owe you Best wishes Qusay

I’m glad it was useful 🙂

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Dear Liz, This is my great pleasure to express how appreciate I’m about all your teaching method, It was perfect, easy and faster to comprehend by everyone else. And since when I have started to got your videos my experience and my abilities improve better related to English Language. Although I cannot express how excited I felt about meeting you as my English teacher, I’m extremely lucky to have an amazing teacher like you that you always influence me positively to reach my future goals! thank you Liz and GOD will reward you.

I’m so pleased my lessons are useful 🙂

I have totally agree from the bottom of my heart. The way you teach, explain, your smile everything I feel that you are in front of me and teaching. I have paid USD 250 before my exams. I have kept asked the teacher to give tips, but nothing had given. Luckily I have got to know your blog WOW! too good! I have learnt now how to answer T/F/NG and Y/N/NG. I have paid USD 24 for your writing task 2 lesson, thoroughly enjoyed. I am going to follow exactly your way. You are a wonderful teacher who knows the subject deeply and deliver the lesson for the students. GOD BLESS YOU to do more and more for us. Ragel

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Crime Vocabulary

Ielts crime vocabulary.

On this page you will find crime vocabulary . These crime words will help you write about the topic or talk about it in the test.

You will find:

At the bottom of the page you will find links to essays connected to crime topics. 

Crime Vocabulary

View essays which use crime vocabulary:

Reducing Crime Essay

Youth Crime Essay

Fear of Crime Essay

More Topic Related Vocabulary:

crime ielts essay vocabulary

Work Vocabulary for IELTS

Work vocabulary to improve your IELTS score. The words are related to the topics of jobs, careers and occupations.

crime ielts essay vocabulary

The Arts Vocabulary

Learn about the Arts vocabulary to help you in the IELTS test for speaking, writing, reading and listening.

crime ielts essay vocabulary

Environment Vocabulary for IELTS

Environment vocabulary words and definitions that you can learn in order to increase your score for the IELTS test.

crime ielts essay vocabulary

Information Technology Vocabulary for IELTS

Learn information technology vocabulary, which provides you with a new word, a definition, and then the word in context.

crime ielts essay vocabulary

Science Vocabulary for IELTS

Science vocabulary to improve your score for the IELTS test. Learn words that can be used in the test, with examples and definitions.

crime ielts essay vocabulary

Children and the Family Vocabulary

Children and the Family Vocabulary for IELTS - essential vocabulary to help to improve your score for IELTS

crime ielts essay vocabulary

Education Vocabulary for IELTS

Learn useful education vocabulary for IELTS to help you with your writing, speaking and reading.

crime ielts essay vocabulary

Health Vocabulary

This health vocabulary includes useful words to talk and write about health, ftiness and food

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Preparation for the IELTS Exam

IELTS vocabulary: crime and punishment

Updated: April 7th 2022

In IELTS writing task 2 various topics come up, such as the environment, family, society, work, technology, education, food and diet, health, sports and sometimes crime. The topic of crime is difficult for many students as there is so much vocabulary surrounding this.

When learning new words you should always learn how the words collocate in a sentence. Research has shown that the best method is to learn set phrases and ‘chunks of language’ not single word lists when learning a new language. When learning new phrases practice making sentences with them to see how they look in context. 

To see an IELTS essay model answer on the topic of ‘crime’ click the blue button below and make note of any new words you find.

Some people think that the best way to reduce crime is to give longer prison sentences. Others, however, believe there are better alternative ways of reducing crime. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

Some people argue that longer jail terms are the most effective way to lower the crime rate, whereas others think that it is possible to reduce criminal offences using different methods. This essay argues that serious offenders should serve longer prison time because society needs to be protected from dangerous criminals.

On the one hand, it is widely felt that prolonged incarceration is necessary for people who commit terrible crimes to reduce the crime rate, and I completely agree with this view. This is because serious criminals such as murderers, rapists or violent offenders need to be kept away from society for as long as possible. If they are released early they will most likely re-offend and go on to commit terrible acts. For instance, evidence suggests that crime rates in developed countries, which have very long prison sentences or the death penalty for murder, are considerably lower than those with lenient sentences.

On the other hand, there is an argument that relying on sentencing to longer incarceration periods is not effective in lowering crime. In other words, society should find ways to tackle the issue of re-offending. To illustrate this, studies from the UK Government have shown that most ex-inmates tend to re-offend because they cannot integrate back into society. Hence, they need support such as education and job training to rebuild their life rather than spending years behind bars. I believe that helping them is essential to stop them from re-offending, however, heavier penalties for serious crimes must not be overlooked.

In conclusion, despite differing views on how to reduce crime, I believe keeping hardened criminals in jail for extended periods is essential to deter them from going back into society and endangering public safety.

Types of crime:

For definitions and meaning go to and type the word into the ‘definitions’ box at the top of the page..

Serious crimes

  • Fraud / Scam 
  • Manslaughter
  • Attempted murder
  • Drug smuggling
  • Human trafficking
  • Embezzlement
  • Organised crime
  • Corporate crime

Less serious crimes

  • Shoplifting
  • Petty crime / Misdemeanour
  • Juvenile crime
  • Drink driving
  • Texting while driving
  • Jumping a red light/traffic violations
  • Pickpocketing
  • Possession of drugs (in some countries this is a serious crime)

People who carry out the crimes (in red)  notice the article ‘a’ before the person

Burglary – a burglar Theft – a thief Pickpocketing – a pickpocket Murder – a murderer Robbery – a robber Mugging – a mugger Fraud – a fraudster Scam – a scammer Shoplifting – a shoplifter Hacking – a hacker Arson – an arsonist Offence – an offender Crime – a criminal

Example sentences:

Click the button below to see these words in context.

  • Online fraud and internet banking scams are rising all over the world now.
  • The number of phishing scams has increased recently.
  • Extortion is commonly used by organised crime syndicates in many countries.
  • She was imprisoned for 25 years for committing murder.
  • He spent 8 years in jail for committing manslaughter .
  • Shoplifting is common among people who are experiencing poverty.
  • Petty crime, such as shoplifting, has decreased considerably in this town.
  • Juvenile crime was a serious issue in London during the 1970s.
  • He spent 1 year in prison for burglary.
  • Human trafficking is a major problem worldwide now.
  • Corporate crime, such as bribery , is widespread among developed nations.
  • The number of muggings in London is much lower now compared to a decade ago.
  • He was charged with assault and sentenced to prison for 6 months.
  • A parking fine is usually considered to be a misdemeanour .
  • He pleaded guilty to  attempted murder  and was given a lengthy jail term.

Collocations and set phrases:

Here are some common phrases and collocations connected to crime with some example sentences to show how they fit in the context of a sentence.

bring crime rates down / reduce crime rates 

  • The government has announced new policies to reduce crime rates.
  • The government has announced new policies to bring crime rates down.

sentenced to prison / to be given a prison sentence 

  • He was sentenced to 3 months in prison for fraud. 
  • He was given a 2-year prison sentence for robbery. 

found guilty of a crime

  • He was found guilty of fraud and was given 2 years in prison by the Judge.

convicted of a crime

  • He was convicted of murder and was given life imprisonment.

jail / prison / behind bars / incarcerated /  locked up 

  • The judge sentenced him to 6 months in prison.
  • The judge sentenced him to 6 months in jail.
  • He was incarcerated for 5 years.
  • Many people believe that long term incarceration is the best punishment for murder.
  • Dangerous criminals need to be locked up.
  • He is serving 2 years behind bars for arson.

serving time/imprisonment

  • He is serving time behind bars for fraud .
  • Imprisonment for serious offences should be far higher than for less serious crimes.

commit a crime / c riminal activities / break the law

  • The number of crimes committed rose by 12% last year. 
  • He committed a serious crime so he will be punished accordingly. 
  • Criminal activities have been increasing due to far fewer police patrols in the city centre. 
  • If you break the law you could go to jail or get a fine.

offenders / lawbreakers / offences / re-offend / re-offending

  • Offences such as shoplifting and theft have declined in recent years. 
  • The number of serious offenders in the UK has dropped by 5% this year.
  • Law courts must deal with  lawbreakers effectively.
  • Many serious criminals tend to re-offend after being released from prison.
  • Re-offending is common among those that were jailed for long periods.

accused of wrongdoing 

  • The politician was accused of wrongdoing so he resigned from his post.

heavy penalties / strict penalties / harsh treatment 

  • The police give heavy penalties to anyone caught drinking and driving.
  • Strict penalties for drunk driving are widely believed to be the most effective policy.
  • In some societies, harsh treatment in prison is considered the best way to deter serious crimes.

a lenient sentence / get off lightly / a soft option

  • Although the offender was accused of manslaughter, he got a lenient sentence of only 9 months.
  • Considering that he was convicted of assault, he got off lightly with only a fine.
  • Fines for drunk driving offences are often believed to be a soft option.

the criminal justice system

  • The criminal justice system in Japan is in desperate need of reform.

convicts / prisoners / inmates

  • In developing countries, many of the inmates receive harsh treatment in prison.
  • The news reported that there were two escaped convicts on the loose.
  • Many of the prisoners took part in riots protesting the extremely harsh conditions of the jail

rehabilitation/counselling sessions

  • In Norway, there is an emphasis on rehabilitation of offenders with regular counselling sessions , rather than long periods in jail.

integrate back into society 

  • It is very difficult for someone who has been in jail for many years to integrate back into society.

held under house arrest

  • The businessman is being held under house arrest while authorities investigate the charges of embezzlement against him.

community service

  • Many people would argue that community service is just a soft option for criminals.

act as a deterrent

  • The main advantage of long prison sentences is that they act as a deterrent.

pay a hefty fine

  • The police are giving out hefty fines of $500 to anyone caught speeding.

seek compensation

  • The defendants’ lawyer is seeking compensation for the wrongful imprisonment of his client.

a miscarriage of justice

He was wrongfully convicted of murder and spent 10 years in prison due to a miscarriage of justice.

Other useful phrases

Take a look at the example sentences and check the online dictionary for the full definition here

  • Court   –  The case will be heard in court next Monday
  • Court case –  After the high profile court case he was followed everywhere by the press.
  • The judge –  The judge sentenced him to 3 years in prison.
  • The defendant –  The defendant wanted more time to prepare his case.
  • The jury –    The jury came to a decision and found the defendant not guilty.
  • Charged with a crime –  The defendant was charged with robbery.
  • Guilty –  She was found guilty of shoplifting
  • Innocent – He was found innocent and not charged with any crime.
  • Evidence / Proof – There was no evidence or proof to show that he committed the crime.
  • Verdict –   The jury reached a verdict and found the defendant guilty of fraud.
  • In custody –  She spent 5 days in custody awaiting her sentence.
  • Trial –  He is currently in custody and is awaiting trial.
  • Witness –  The witness was given police protection as it was a high profile murder case.
  • Make an appeal –  The defence lawyer made an appeal to the judge as he felt that the punishment was very unfair.
  • Seek damages – The defendant is seeking damages for unlawful imprisonment.

Leave a comment below if you have any questions.

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Crime and punishment IELTS model essay with vocabulary

Our band nine sample essays give you the opportunity to learn from successful essays that show off the best structure, vocabulary and grammar. This IELTS essay on crime and punishment explores the advantages and disadvantages of harsh punishment for criminals.

band Nine Sample Essay

In some countries, crimes are punished harshly. what are some advantages and disadvantages of this approach.

Several nations have opted to implement a system of strict penalties, such as long jail sentences and execution, for crimes. In this essay, I will explore the advantage that this is a good deterrent with the disadvantage that this harms rehabilitation .

Punitive measures can help deter future crime. If people can see that crimes will be punished harshly, they are far less likely to want to commit a crime . Because people consider risk versus reward before acting, making crime as risky as possible by increasing punishment can stop criminals. Conversely, when countries have light punishments for crimes like shoplifting , people in those countries might feel like it is worth the risk to do these crimes.

However, these strong punishments also increase recidivism by failing to rehabilitate people. One of the main purposes of sending people to prison is to prevent them from committing crimes when they leave; however, making prisons and other punishments too strict works against this purpose. When criminals have a heavily punitive experience, they lose self-confidence and become distrustful of authority , meaning they are more likely to be involved in crime when they leave prison. Alternatively, if prisoners have access to training and support, such as drug rehabilitation programs and anger management classes, they are far more likely to rejoin society in a productive way. 

In conclusion, the correct punishment for crimes is a complex issue. On the one hand, strong measures deter crime; on the other hand, the same measures make it more likely for prisoners to reoffend .

crime and punishment vocabulary

Although crime and punishment is a common topic in the IELTS exam, there, thankfully, is not too much vocabulary you need to know for it. Let’s take a look at some of the high level vocabulary in this answer to kick start your learning.

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IELTS Vocabulary – Crime and Policing

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crime policing ielts vocabulary

The topic of crime often comes up on the IELTS test and it can be challenging because it covers such a wide range of situations and vocabulary. As well as understanding the meaning of crime vocabulary you must be aware of the correct collocations of the words. This page provides the meanings of the words and real examples of how they can be used in answers. There are some exercises for you to practice using the words in context.

Table of Contents

  • Different types of Crime Vocabulary
  • Different types of Crime Activity
  • General Crime Vocabulary
  • General Crime Vocabulary Activity
  • Crime Collocations
  • Crime Collocations Activity

1. Different types of Crime

Below is a list of the most common types of crime that may come up on the IELTS test. For some of the crimes, the person who commits it has a specific name that is written in parenthesis.

  • Abduction / Kidnapping –(Abductor/Kidnapper) – The act of taking someone by force against their will
  • Assault – An act that threatens physical or sexual harm to a person, whether or not it is done or not.
  • Arson – (Arsonist) – The deliberate starting of fires
  • Bribery – Money or favours given to influence people in power. For example, police officers and politicians
  • Drink driving – (Drunk drivers) – Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol
  • Drug dealing – (Drug dealer) – The act of selling drugs to other people
  • Drug possession – (Drug user) – The act of being caught in the possession of drugs
  • Drug smuggling – (Drug smuggler) –The act of transporting drugs across international borders
  • Corruption – Dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power. Often involves bribery.
  • Extorsion –(Extortionists) – Obtaining money or benefit through threats, force, or intimidation
  • Fraud/Deception – (Fraudster) – Using deceit to result in financial or personal gain
  • Human trafficking – (Human traffickers) – Transporting people, often against their will, to benefit from their work or service. For example, forced labour and sexual exploitation.
  • Identity theft – Assuming a different person’s identity, usually for financial gain.
  • Manslaughter – The unintentional killing of another person
  • Mugging – (Mugger) – The act of attacking and stealing from another person in public
  • Murder – (Murderer) – The premeditated act of taking another person’s life
  • Organised crime – Criminal activities planned by groups and carried out on a large scale.
  • Robbery – (Robber) – The act of forcefully taking property from a person or place
  • Shoplifting – (Shoplifter) – The act of stealing from shops or stores
  • Theft – (Thief) – The act of stealing something
  • Vandalism – (Vandal) – The destruction or damage to public or private property

2. Activity 1 – Different types of crime activity

  • identity theft
  • organised crime
  • drug trafficking
  • people trafficking
  • manslaughter
  • drink driving
  • drug possession

3. General Vocabulary for Crime and Policing

Here are some of the most useful/common words that may come up when discussing crime and justice. There is an activity for you to practice using the words in context.

  • Arrest – To take someone into custody (police station) by legal authority
  • Barrister – A lawyer who is allowed to practice in the higher courts
  • Conviction – A formal declaration of guilt made by the judge or jury
  • Court – The place where a trial takes place / The process of trial either with a judge or jury
  • Defendant/Accused – The person(s) being accused of breaking the law
  • Evidence/Proof – The statements, information, or physical objects that prove or disprove a crime
  • Guilty – The person(s) accused of the crime is responsible for the wrongdoing
  • Innocent – The person(s) accused of the crime is not responsible for the wrongdoing
  • Jail/Prison – The place where a person convicted of a crime is sent to serve their sentence
  • Judge – An official who decides cases of law
  • Jury – A group consisting of members of the public who decide the verdict in a legal case
  • Lawyer – A person qualified to practice law
  • Offence/Crime – The breaking of a rule/law – An illegal act
  • Probation – The release of a criminal under certain conditions such as electronic tagging or good behaviour.
  • Prosecution – The lawyers/institution conducting legal proceedings against the defendant/accused
  • Reoffending – Committing a new crime after being released from prison
  • Solicitor – A person qualified to prepare legal documents such as wills and property deeds.
  • Statement – A declaration given to the police during interviews
  • Trial – The process of prosecuting a person/organisation for a crime
  • Verdict – The final decision of the judge or jury
  • Witness – A person who gives evidence in court either in favour or against the defendant/accused

4. Activity 2 – General Crime Vocabulary Exercise

  • reoffending

5. Crime/Policing Collocations

If you want to get a high score on the IELTS test, you must useconcise and accurate words, and you must also make sure they are collocated correctly with the other words in the sentence. Below are some of the most common collocations you may use when talking or writing about crime and policing. There is an exercise for you to practice using the words in context.

  • Act as a deterrent – Something that makes people doubt committing crime because of the perceived punishment
  • Be soft on crime – When the justice system is generally lenient and not strict with sentencing length and prosecutions
  • Be tough on crime – To be strict and harsh in terms of punishment for crime
  • Behind bars / Banged up – In jail
  • Convicted of a crime – To be found guilty of a crime
  • Crime of passion – A crime committed due to emotional/sexual feelings
  • The full weight of the law – The most severe sentence/punishment possible
  • Get released from jail – To be allowed back into the public following incarceration
  • Harsh sentences – A severe or strict punishment
  • Integrated back into society – How formerly incarcerated people adapt to living in normal society
  • Lenient sentences – Not as strict or severe as expected or as is possible
  • Letter of the law – Following the law exactly with no flexibility
  • Non-custodial sentence – A sentence that doesn’t involve going to jail. For example, community service or probation
  • Reduce crime rates – To make crime go down in frequency
  • Sentenced to five years – Sent to jail for five years
  • To deter crime – To make people not want to commit crime
  • Turn to crime – To start committing crime
  • Zero tolerance – To show no leniency to crime

6. Activity 3 – Crime/ Policing Collocations Vocabulary Exercise

  • reintegrate back into society
  • turn to crime
  • harsh sentences
  • act as a deterrent
  • tough on crime
  • zero tolerance
  • letter of the law

For more practice, visit vocabulary for job & work .

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IELTS Band 8+ Vocabulary for Writing Task 2 – Topic: Crime & Punishment

IELTS Band 8+ Vocabulary for Writing Task 2 - Topic Crime & Punishment

Vocabulary is unquestionably important in IELTS Writing because it accounts up to 25% of your overall score. Therefore, you should place a strong focus on learning vocabulary to prepare better for the IELTS test. This post covers 3 parts:

  • Academic Words for IELTS Writing Task 2 – Topic: Crime & Punishment
  • Useful Collocations & Phrases for IELTS Writing – Topic: Crime & Punishment
  • IELTS Writing Task 2 Topic & Questions shared by IELTS test-takers from 2019 to 2021


1. useful academic words:.

abide (verb): accept and follow out  abolish (verb): to put an end to something, such as a rule, or custom appreciate  (verb): to recognize how good someone or something is and to be  grateful for it arson (noun): the illegal use of fire to destroy a house, building, or  property authority (noun): the police or people who has legal power to make people obey laws or rules bully (verb): to hurt or frighten someone who is weaker or smaller than you convict (verb): to decide officially in a law court that someone is guilty of a crime criminal (noun): someone who commits a crime combat (verb): to try to stop something bad, or harmful deterrent (noun): a thing that discourages or is intended to discourage someone from doing something deter (verb): to prevent or discourage someone from doing something enforce (verb): to make people obey a rule or law evil (adj): very unpleasant, morally bad, or cruel fine (noun): amount of money that has to be paid as a punishment for not obeying a rule or law fraud (noun): the crime of obtaining money from someone by tricking them imprisonment (noun): the situation of being in prison inequality (noun): a lack of equality or fair treatment in the sharing of wealth or  opportunities intent (noun): the intention to do something intrusion (noun): something that interrupts a private event or a peaceful situation kidnap (noun): to take someone somewhere illegally by force, often in order to get money for returning them; ransom motive (noun): a reason for doing something pickpocketing (noun): the crime of stealing things out of people’s pockets or bags prosecutor (noun): a lawyer who proves in court that someone accused of a crime is guilty recklessness (noun): not thinking about the possible bad effects of your actions smuggling (noun): the crime of taking people or goods into or out of a country illegally the accused (noun): the person who is on trial in a law court vandalism (noun): the act of intentionally damaging things belonging to other people, especially public property violation (noun): an action that breaks a law, agreement, rule, etc. harsh (adj): unkind, unpleasant, cruel, or more severe than is necessary intentional (adj): deliberate, intended or planned; done on purpose law-abiding (adj): a law-abiding person is who obeys the law offensive (adj): very rude or insulting and likely to upset people petty (adj): not important and not worth giving attention to punishable ( adj): being punishable because someone does something illegal imprison (verb): to put someone in prison offend (verb): to make someone upset or angry perpetrate (verb): to do something that is illegal, harmful or dishonest resent (verb): be angry at something or someone because you have been hurt or treated unfairly


minor crime = lesser crime = petty crime major crime = serious crime break the law engage in criminal activity impose stricter punishments on… = impose heavier sentences on… carry out unlawful act receive capital punishment = receive the death penalty = receive a death sentence = face execution commit an offense receive prison sentences = be sent to prison = be put in prison face life imprisonment = serve a life sentence reoffend = commit crimes again = continue to commit crime after being punished go to jail = be put in jail/ prison = to be imprisoned prevent somebody from… = deter somebody from… pose a serious threat to society = threaten the safety of society = put society in danger juvenile crimes = juvenile delinquency = juvenile offending = youth crimes = crimes among young adults crime rates = crime levels urgent problem = pressing problem = grave problem be given the chance to… = be given the opportunity to… the increased use of drugs and alcohol = alcohol and drug abuse the major/primary/principal cause of… = the major/primary/principal reason for… turn to illegal acts to generate income = commit crimes to earn money raise awareness of crime prevention = promote crime prevention programs

3. Writing Task 2 Questions in 2021 – Topic: Crime & Punishment

Many offenders commit more crimes after serving the first punishment. Why is this happening, and what measures can be taken to tackle this problem?

In many countries the age of criminals is getting lower. Give reasons and solutions to the problem. Support your position with relevant examples.

Crime is a problem all over the world and there is nothing that can be done to prevent it. Agree or disagree? Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Nowadays you can find instructional videos for just about any crime you can think of. What possible effects can this have on individuals and society? Provide specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

The government should control the amount of violence in films and televisions in order to decrease the violent crimes in the society. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

In most countries military officers retire at the age of 45 while other people work as long as 65 to 70. Compare these two approaches. Provide specific reasons and examples to support your position.

Some people think that the media should not report details of crimes to the public. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

In some countries prisons are overcrowded which leads to many expenses for the government. To lessen the cost for prisoners’ cost of living, reduced sentences are implemented. What do you suggest could be done? Provide specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Some people who have been in prison become good citizens later, and it is often argued that these are the best people to talk to teenagers about the dangers of committing a crime. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Some people are afraid to go out for fear of being robbed on the streets. Still, there are robberies that happen inside houses. What do you think is the best thing a person can do to ensure his/her own security? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

In many countries the level of crime is increasing and crimes are becoming more violent. Why do you think this is and what can be done about it?

Some people believe that once a person becomes a criminal, he will always be a criminal. Do you agree with this statement? Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Some countries are struggling with increases in crime rates. Some believe that having more police on the streets is best way to reduce and combat crime. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

In some countries prisoners are allowed comfortable accommodation, good food, and healthcare. Do you think this is appropriate? To what extent do you agree or disagree? Give specific reasons and examples to support your position.

crime ielts essay vocabulary

Useful Vocabulary for IELTS Writing Task 1

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IELTS Speaking & Writing Vocabulary: Crime + PDF

IELTS Speaking & Writing Vocabulary: Crime + PDF

In either IELTS Writing or Speaking part you may come across essay question or speaking topics like Crime, Prisons, Crime Prevention, Community service, Crimes on TV, etc. If you do not know the specific vocabulary for this topic, it will be difficult to get a decent score for the Lexical Resource criterion - the variety of vocabulary.

Word list on Work topic here:

Word list on Studies topic here:

Word list on Accommodation topic here:

For a band 8.0, you need to use topical vocabulary and precise words - not general words, but different words which are specific to the topic. If the topic is Crime, then you need to write words specifically about crime , for example, types of crimes, synonyms for the word criminal .

>> Download this Vocabulary list in PDF

Vocabulary list

commit crimes serve a term reformed individuals ex-prisoners past criminal records get into crime commit crimes like burglary, extortion, robbery and blackmailing enforce strong vocational training prisoners should be counselled by psychologists reformed criminals place people in prison for longer periods offenders a prison sentence rehabilitate a prisoner commit a serious offence such as assault re-educated re-offend longer prison sentences will act as a deterrent for criminals to deter crime mix with other criminals long prison sentences normal, productive members of society break the law reformed offenders reformed criminals deter teenagers from committing crimes Crime rate has increased manifold these days. many convicts tend to repeat crimes get released from jail an employee with criminal record ex-convicts jail inmates prevent them from committing crimes again Constant psychological counselling is necessary for … to rehabilitate ex-criminals to prevent them from committing further crimes minor crimes be put in prison to ensure the safety of other citizens violent crimes

Causes re-offending: People who commit crimes often have no other way of making a living. Many prisoners re-offend when they are released. Offenders mix with other criminals who can be a negative influence. The main causes of crime are poverty and unemployment. Possible measures to reduce re-offending: Rehabilitation programmes prepare prisoners for release into society. Community service is another way to reform offenders. Prisons should provide education or vocational training. The authorities should organise schemes that provide financial assistance

Crime Prevention The job of the police is to catch criminals. They must also prevent crime and make communities safer. There should be an increase in the number of police officers on the streets. They should focus on young people who have dropped out of school. Rehabilitation Rehabilitated prisoners are less likely to re-offend Prisoners receive vocational training Prisoners should learn personal skills and specific job skills Rehabilitation aims to make them better citizens Capital punishment or death penalty Capital punishment deters crime Fear of the death penalty stops people from committing offences The cost of imprisonment is avoided Innocent people could be wrongly convicted and executed Capital punishment is not a good deterrent Executing prisoners creates a violent culture and encourages revenge Community service It could be a solution to prison overcrowding Community service is a way to reform offenders It avoids the cost of imprisonment It makes offenders useful in their local communities Offenders repay their community Community service is not a sufficient punishment

Guns and Weapons to be armed to own firearms use guns in self defence use weapons carry guns This deters criminals The threat of a gun can deter criminals a risk of accidents with guns Suicide rates have been shown to rise when guns are available Police officers can forces a criminal to surrender The police may shoot violent criminals in self defence The police can shoot an escaping criminal who poses a serious danger to the public The police might shoot an unarmed criminal Accidents can happen in public places alternatives to guns: tear gas or sprays, andelectric shock weapons) Weapons may be used in conflicts and wars The supply of arms could be responsible for deaths Nuclear weapons Nuclear weapons should be prohibited Nuclear weapons are capable of destroying whole cities Governments should limit the production of nuclear weapons There is a danger of nuclear weapons being obtained by terrorists Armed Forces Armed forces deter military attack by another country They provide security and protection Soldiers are also used to help in emergency situations, such as natural disasters Too much money is spent on weapons and military technology Armies require a lot of funding from governments

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IELTS Writing Task 2 Topic: Crime and Punishment Vocabulary

Courtney Miller

Updated On Sep 26, 2022

crime ielts essay vocabulary

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IELTS Writing Task 2 Topic: Crime and Punishment Vocabulary

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Law, Crime and the Legal System and its related issues rank among the top ten most common IELTS Writing Task 2 topics. Here is a set of useful collocations and phrases for IELTS writing task 2 on this topic. Learning these will help you familiarize yourself with the topic and give you some relevant ideas about crime and legal issues to write about.

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This post will cover a wide range of collocations and vocabulary related to crime and punishment that will enable IELTS candidates to boost their band score for IELTS writing to Band  7.0+

Expressing Views About Crime and Punishment

1. The crime rate:  a measure of the number of crimes in a particular area during a period of time.

“The reduction of the crime rate is the main goal for lawmakers.

2. To commit a crime:  does something wrong or illegal.

“In the US, a young person who commits a crime by stealing a car will almost certainly go to prison.”

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3. Prison sentence:  the period of time served in prison under such as a sentence.

“It is the heated debate that government have to pass lenient laws that would avoid the  prison sentence while others think it would increase the crime rate in our society.”

4. Deterrent:  a punishment makes somebody less likely to do illegal activities.

“The death penalty acts as a deterrent to people who wish to bring drugs illegally into another country.”

5. Loss of freedom: Restriction, imprisonment.

“Loss of freedom is a punishment that offenders have to face when they go to jail.”

6. White-collar crime:  Crimes committed by “office works”, for example, fraud.

“More and more employees who work in a bank turn into crime as white-collar crime.”

7. Be put on probation:  To be under supervision to ensure their good behavior.

“Sometimes first-time offenders are not imprisoned but are put on probation for a set period of time to ensure their good behavior.”

8 . Social isolation:  the state of separating somebody from our society.

“The offenders have to serve the prison sentence as the social isolation to remain safety of society.”

9. A violent criminal:  Includes assault, mugging and robbery.

“A student who is bullied at school may turn into a violent criminal  when they grow up.

10. Motive for crime:  The reason why people commit crimes.

” A desire for revenge on his wife is a motive for his crime as murder. “

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11. Allay the fears: to make someone feel less afraid, worried.

“I believe that some solutions could help to allay people’s fears.”

12. Turn to a career of crime:  become a criminal.

“Nowadays, in the harshly competitive labor market, the unemployment rate is rising rapidly, more and more people cannot meet the basic human’s need that is maybe a reason for them to turn to a career of crime. “

13. To be imprisoned:  Go to a jail.

” Being imprisoned is the best way to punish offenders for their guilty. “

14. To breed future offenders:  influence people, especially young people, in such a way that they later commit a crime.

“Parents should give more attention to their offspring in order to avoid breeding future offenders .”

15. Easy money:  Money that you get without working hard for it, especially when you do illegal activities to get this money.

“To make easy money, the bank robbery have stolen two billion dollars from five international banks in this year.”

16. To break the law:  do something illegal.

“If a person breaks the law , he is certainly imprisoned .”

17. To resort to crime:  to use crime because there is no other solution.

“After losing all money from the game, the men resorted to crime to get easy money .”

18. Illegal activities:  the illegal acts.

“It is alarming that more and more youngsters turn into i llegal activities. “

19. Fall foul of the law:  to get into trouble with the police because you are doing something illegal.

“In Vietnam, if the company discharges the huge amount of untreated waste into rivers, they certainly fall foul of the law. “

20. Juvenile delinquency:  Antisocial behavior committed by people under eighteen years old.

“It is true that juvenile delinquency rate is increasing alarmingly, which could jeopardize the social stability.”

21. Soaring crime rates: crime rates rising very fast.

Example: We are facing off soaring crime rates and it’s high time the criminals were brought to justice .

22. Miscarriages of justice: Situation where innocent people are found guilty.

Example: There have been a multitude of miscarriages of justice recently.

23. Trumped-up charges: invented and false accusations.

24. Face trial : face a legal court case.

Example: No one in the world should face trial on the basis of unreliable evidence or trumped-up charges.

25. Escape punishment: Not facing any consequences for a crime.

Example: The boys escaped punishment as they were related to the judge.

26. Custodial sentences: a sentence to be served in a prison or similar institution

27. Commit minor offences : Doing small crimes.

Example: While the rich always seem to escape punishment, poor people seem to receive custodial sentences even for committing minor offences

28. Extenuating circumstances: circumstances that lessen the blame

29. Serve out one’s sentence: serve the full amount of time

Courts and Trials

The trial was adjourned: the trial was suspended till a later time or date.

To be remanded in custody: send to prison until the trial begins or continues.

Dismiss the case: Decide that the case is not worth considering.

Unanimous verdict: verdict which all the decision makers agree to.

Beyond Reasonable Doubt : With full proof.

Contest the verdict: Disagree with the verdict and tried to change it.

Other Useful Expressions and Phrases for Crime and Punishment Topic :

  • Capital punishments | Death penalty
  • To sentence criminals to death
  • A form of revenge
  • A criminal record
  • To engage in unlawful activities
  • To re-offend
  • Criminals = Wrongdoers = Lawbreakers = Convicts = Offenders
  • Rehabilitated prisoners
  • Community service
  • Prison sentences
  • Unlawful actions
  • To deter/discourage people from doing something
  • To send somebody to prison

Exercises :

Exercise 1: rewrite the underlined part of each of these extracts from conversations using the collocation below to make them sound more like extracts from newspaper reports..

Soaring crime rates Dismiss Escape punishment was adjourned

1. Why should young criminals get away without being punished for crimes just because of their age? 2.  An increasing number of crimes per head of the population have been recorded in the last twelve months. 3 The judge threw out the case because he felt the evidence was not strong enough . 4 The judge said that the trial would now take place next month.

Exercise 2. Choose the correct collocation.

1. If you are remanded in custody, you are kept in prison/ obliged to pay some money/ allowed to go home. 2. Someone might get out of prison early for good/soaring / extenuating behavior. 3. If you serve out a sentence, you are  kept in prison for the full amount of time / released from prison early /kept in prison for life. 4. If you get a custodial sentence, you  only serve the sentence if you commit another crime / go to prison / have to do some community service.

Exercise 3. Correct the mistakes with prepositions in the collocations.

1 The witness appeared on court for the first time today. 2 He was put in trial for murder. 3 The murderer was soon brought into justice. 4 He was later remanded on custody. 5 The ease against Mr. Sharp was proved over reasonable doubt.

Exercise 4. Come up with Answers for the following topics related to Crime in IELTS Writing Task 2 and post it in the comment section below or on to be checked and scored by IELTS experts.

Writing ielts task 2 topic 1 :.

Studies show that criminals get low level of education. Some people believe that the best way to reduce the crime is educating people in prison so they can get a job after leaving prison. To what extent do you agree or disagree? You can read Band 9.0 Sample Answer here .

Writing IELTS Task 2 Topic 2 :

In some countries, a high proportion of criminal acts are committed by teenagers. Why has this happened? What can be done to deal with this? You can read Band 9.0 Sample Answer here .

Writing IELTS Task 2 Topic 3 :

Some people who have been in prison become good citizens later. Some people think that having these people to give a talk to school students is the best way to tell them about dangers of committing a crime. Do you agree or disagree? You can read Band 9.0 Sample Answer here .

Exercise 5. Complete each sentence

1 He has been in court on several previous occasions but only for committing offences. 2 Unfortunately, there have been a number of……………………of justice recently. 3 The jury was quick to reach a……………………verdict, finding the accused guilty. 4 This is the sixth time the accused has………………….in court. 5 The lawyer claimed that there were some………………………circumstances. 6 The accused…………………. all knowledge of the crime, but no one believed her. 7 The newspaper said…………………. had been served by the conviction of Joe Lee. 8 Charles Weiss was…………………..damages for the injury he had suffered. 9 The trial has been………………….until next week.

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IELTS Writing Vocabulary: Crime and punishment


Let’s discuss another important topic which will be very useful if you want to score high in IELTS  Crime and punishment.

Step by step we are moving forward to another important vocabulary section – crime and punishment. Let’s start with the word  crime . Its definition is simple: an act against the law. But it can have many different meanings when used in expressions, so let’s have a closer look at some of them.

  • petty crime  – not a serious crime
  • violent crime  – crime which includes assault
  • organized crime  – organized group of people commits crimes or engages in criminal enterprises for profit.
  • white-collar crime  – a term mostly referring to business world crimes. Usually crimes committed by businessmen or office workers for financial gain.
  • victimless crime  – a crime with no apparent victim

Example: He has a history of violent crime stretching back to his early years.

Bribery is a popular type of  white-collar crime . In case of  victimless crimes  prosecution starts within one week.

Now let’s work with some other  useful phrases .

If you don’t know some of them, write them in your notepad for future reference.

  • to carry out a crime  – to commit a crime;
  • to investigate a crime  – to detect / solve a crime;
  • to fight crime  – to tackle crime;
  • to prevent crime  – to preclude crime;
  • a crackdown on crime  – a serious attempt to punish people for committing crimes;
  • life of crime  – criminal way of living; a crime wave – a sudden increase in the amount of crime in an area;
  • circumstances of the crime  – conditions under which a crime was committed;
  • the incidence of crime  – the number of times crime happens or develops;

In general, there are dozens of expressions with the word crime. Now let’s move forward and discuss the types of crime!

  • A popular word in action movies is  abduction . It is an act of capturing, carrying away by force. Example : There has been a series of  abductions  in the area.
  • Arson  is an act of criminal burning of property. Example: It looked like an accidental fire, not arson.
  • assault  – a violent physical attack Example : His body showed signs of assault.
  • burglary  – illegal entrance into premises with criminal intent Example : They said there was a burglary, but nothing was missing.
  • child abuse  – physical or emotional mistreatment of a child Example: In the United States the laws defining what constitutes child abuse vary from state to state.
  • drug trafficking  – production, distribution, and sale of illegal drugs Example: The key source of profit of organized criminal groups is drug trafficking.
  • fraud  – If you are promised a million dollars on the Internet, it’s fraud. Fraud is trickery intended to gain an advantage. Example: She was found guilty of committing fraud.
  • hacking  – special type of Internet crime. When somebody’s website or server is hacked, it means that the server or website is broken.
  • hijacking  – stopping and stealing a vehicle Example : He hijacked a truck, threatening the driver with a gun.
  • murder  – the crime of deliberately killing a person Example : Her husband was found murdered.
  • manslaughter  – also killing a person, BUT accidentally – without the intent to do so. Example : He was back in prison 2 years later, convicted of manslaughter
  • terrorism  – violence or threat of violence as a way of trying to achieve a political goal Example : International action to combat terrorism should focus heavily on prevention.
  • blackmailing  – using secret information to get something in return (usually money) Example : The former Romanian Prime Minister was placed on probation for blackmail.
  • felony  – a serious crime such as murder or burglary Example : Filing false tax returns is a felony.
  • pickpocketing  – stealing someone’s belongings from pockets and purses Example : Any tourist city is a haven for pickpockets and thieves.
  • shoplifting  – stealing things from a shop or store. Example : A boy shoplifted a toy from the store.
  • And the last word combination is  traffic offences  – crimes committed on the road. When committing a traffic offence people usually have to pay a fine. Example : In European countries fines for traffic offences are extremely high.

Another big part of the crime and punishment vocabulary is court vocabulary.

  • a defendant  – a person accused of a crime in court Example : The defendant was convicted of murder.
  • a prosecutor  – the lawyer who represents the side that tries to prove the person guilty Example : The public prosecutor finally decided not to pursue charges.
  • a witness  – a person who sees something (such as crime) happening Example : The defense called its first witness.
  • guilty  – responsible for committing a crime or doing something wrong Example : The jury found him guilty of murder.
  • victim  – a person who has been attacked in some way by somebody. Example : Some victims are selected because they seem vulnerable.

Some useful expressions with the word victim:

  • Innocent / unsuspecting victim  – not deserving to be harmed;
  • to portray somebody as a victim  – to present somebody as a victim.
  • a suspect  – a person who is believed to be guilty Example: The man was arrested as a suspect.
  • an attorney  – a lawyer who can sue or defend people. Example: If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you by the state.
  • evidence  – something that can serve to prove something. In our context evidence is usually presented in court to prove that someone is guilty or innocent.

Popular expressions with the word evidence are:

  • hearsay evidence  – evidence based not on a witness’s personal knowledge but on another’s statement not made under oath;
  • criminal evidence  – evidence related to a criminal case; in the light of evidence / in the face of evidence – considering the evidence;
  • not a scrap of evidence  – no evidence;
  • verdict  – the decision made by a jury in a trial. Example: The jury reached a verdict after hours of deliberation.

And here is a list of verdict expressions:

  • favorable verdict  – positive verdict
  • adverse verdict  – negative verdict
  • to appeal against a verdict  – to protest a verdict
  • final verdict  – definitive verdict.
  • a judge  – a public official given the right to decide on questions brought before a court of justice Example: The judge ordered the company to pay compensation.

The following expressions are also widely used:

a panel of independent judges – judicial division / bench

High Court Judge – a judge in the High Court

  • jury  – a group of people that decides on a court case Example: Tell the jury in your own words what happened.
  • expressions : trial by jury  – to hear the case in a court with participation of jury to serve on a jury  – carry out responsibilities of a jury

Now let’s talk about possible penalties or the types of punishment and words and phrases to describe them.

  • death penalty  also known as  capital punishment  is the execution of a person after judgment by a legal system Example : Our criminal system is very careful in cases of death penalty.
  • suspended sentence  – the judge’s decision to delay a prison or jail sentence. Example: A suspended sentence usually remains on the defendant’s criminal record permanently.
  • forfeiture  – the loss of property or money because of legal obligation or as a judge’s decision. Example: The court may also order forfeiture of property in this case.
  • probation  – a period of time in which a person who has committed a crime is allowed to stay out of prison if that person behaves well. Example: She was put on probation for 3 years.
  • to suspend a license  – usually refers to a driver’s license and means that your license is taken away for a period of time. Example: If you are ticketed for too many violations within a specific period of time, your license will be suspended.
  • corporal punishment  – physical punishment Example: Corporal punishment of some form is still used in schools in some states.
  • prison sentence / custodial sentence / imprisonment  – these terms are almost similar in meaning and thus could serve to paraphrase. They all describe a situation when someone is convicted and sent to spend a specified period of time in prison. Example : A court can give a range of prison sentences including suspended, fixed-term, and life sentences.
  • a ban  – sometimes a jury can impose a ban which means that you are prohibited from doing something. Example: He was banned from entering the building.
  • a fine  – an amount of money an offender must pay Example: A fine can be given instead of or in addition to imprisonment.
  • community service  – Sometimes a jury can decide to send a guilty person to perform some community service. Community service refers to unpaid work beneficial for the community. Example: Alternative sentences can include different combinations of the following: a suspended sentence, probation and community service.

That’s basically all for crime and punishment vocabulary. It might seem to be too difficult to memorize all of them in one day, but you don’t have to! Take your time, memorize basic vocabulary, and remember to use them in your writing and other parts of the IELTS examination! Good luck!

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  • crime of passion Meaning: refers to a crime, especially murder, caused by sexual jealousy Example: People who carry out  crimes of passion  often regret their actions later, when they reflect on what they have done.
  • to serve a prison sentence Meaning: to carry out confinement in prison as a punishment Example: They are serving long  prison sentences  for their part in the assassination.
  • to turn to crime/ drugs Meaning: To start committing crimes or using drugs. Example: During periods of high youth unemployment, some youngsters  turn to crime  to obtain money.
  • to be tough on crime Meaning: To punish crime severely Example: The crime rate is likely to fall if governments take strong measures  to be tough on crime.
  • to contest the verdict Meaning: not agree with the decision of the jury after the trial of a case Example: In many countries, the accused person has the right to  contest theverdict  which was reached in the court.
  • to take into consideration Meaning: to think about a particular fact or detail and allow it to have some influence when you are making a decision Example: The previous criminal records of those who are found guilty must  be taken into consideration  when a sentence is passed.
  • to reintegrate back into society/community Meaning: to restore someone through education or therapy Example: There is an increasing focus among policy-makers and practitioners on identifying programs and strategies that will help prisoners successfully  reintegrate back into their communities  without re-offending.
  • to be soft on crime Meaning: not to impose strict punishments on offenders Example: In order to deter criminals effectively, governments must not follow policies which  are soft on crime .
  • a policy of zero tolerance Meaning: a policy of applying laws very strictly, so that every illegal action is punished, even if it is not very serious Example: I would argue that the most effective way to reduce crime is to implement  a policy of zero tolerance.
  • a chance of rehabilitation Meaning: a chance of helping someone to have a normal life after serving a prison sentence Example: We should give ex-offerders  a chance of rehabilitation  and teach them how to become useful members of society.
  • to embark on something Meaning: To start something new Example: Young people sometimes  embark on  a life of crime as a result of the bad influence of criminals whom they know.
  • to make a fresh start Meaning: to try something new after making mistakes in one’s life Example: I believe that people should have the opportunity  to make a fresh start  after they are released from prison.
  • to act as a deterrent Meaning: a measure which makes somebody less likely to do something Example: Longer prison sentences would  act as a deterrent  and would be one useful measure to tackle rising crime.
  • to release back into society. Meaning: to give freedom to prisoners who have finished their sentences. Example: He was  released back into society  after serving two years of a five- year sentence.
  • corporal punishment Meaning: to punish by physically harming the offender Example: Many schools have abandoned the policy of  corporal punishment  for children who misbehave and prefer to give extra work or detention after school instead.
  • drug traffic-king Meaning: importing and selling illegal drugs Example: Some people argue that legalising drugs would put an end to the evil of  drug traffic-king  and the violence associated with it.
  • a non-custodial sentence | Meaning: a sentence which is not served in prison Example: There is a wide range of non custodial sentences which a court may give to offenders, including: fines, probation orders or community service orders.
  • to be found guilty Meaning: the court decided that the person did commit the crime Example: If people  are found guilty of  committing serious offences, heavy punishments should be imposed.
  • the full weight of the law Meaning: all the strictest punishments available according to the laws of a country. Example: In order to deter crime,  the full weight of the law  must be imposed for all serious offences.
  • to impose a ban on sth Meaning: to enforce an official rule which says that something is not allowed Example: Most governments  have imposed a ban on  the sale of tobacco to those aged under 16.
  • to convict a criminal Meaning: to find an offender guilty and to punish them Example: Once the courts  have convicted a criminal , the punishment should be severe.
  • law-abiding citizens Meaning: people who obey and respect the law Example: The government could take some effective steps to protect  law- abiding citizens .
  • to enforce the law Meaning: to make sure that the law is obeyed Example: The role of the police and the courts is  to enforce the law.
  • capital punishment Meaning: punishment by death Example: In some states of America, those who commit murder are sometimes sentenced to  capital punishment.
  • forensic evidence Meaning: connected with the scientific tests conducted by the police when investigating a crime Example: Modern police methods include the use of  forensic evidence , such as DNA samples, to investigate crimes.
  • to instal surveillance cameras Meaning: to put cameras in a place where a crime is likely to be committed Example: The security company  has installed surveillance cameras  at all the entrances and exits of the shopping mall.
  • to put on probation Meaning: to make a convicted person see an official at regular intervals to check on their good behavior, as an alternative to going to prison Example: The young offender was  put on probation , as his crime was not serious enough to send him to prison.
  • to punish wrongdoers Meaning: to punish people who do something illegal Example: Stricter measures must be introduced by governments  to punish wrongdoers.
  • to arrest suspects Meaning: to stop and hold people who the police think may have committed a crime Example: The government should give the police greater powers  to arrest suspects.
  • the letter of the law Meaning: the exact wording of the law, without considering any excuses Example: I believe that the courts must apply  the strict letter of the law  and impose the harshest possible sentences on criminals.


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Crime Vocabulary for IELTS Exam

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  • Updated on  
  • Jun 17, 2023

Crime Vocabulary For IELTS

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a widely recognized examination for assessing English language proficiency , including the ability to comprehend and communicate on various topics. In the context of crime, a robust vocabulary is crucial for achieving a high band score. In this blog, we will aim to explore essential crime-related vocabulary for the IELTS exam . Keep reading the blog to know more. 

This Blog Includes:

Violent crimes, property crimes, law enforcement, legal terminology, punishments and rehabilitation, measures and strategies, legal frameworks, basic vocabulary for types of crime.

Below, we have mentioned some popular words for violent/property crimes and their meaning.

  • Murder: The unlawful killing of another person.
  • Assault: The act of physically attacking someone.
  • Robbery: Theft involving force or threat of force against a person.
  • Rape: Non-consensual sexual intercourse.
  • Kidnapping: The act of taking someone by force, typically to demand ransom or exert control.

Also Read: IELTS Study Material

  • Theft: The act of taking someone else’s property without permission.
  • Burglary: Unlawfully entering a building with the intent to commit a crime.
  • Arson: The deliberate act of setting fire to property.
  • Fraud: Intentional deception for personal or financial gain.
  • Vandalism: The deliberate destruction or damage of property.

Also Read: IELTS Slot Booking Process

Basic Vocabulary for Criminal Justice System

Below, we have mentioned the basic vocabulary for the criminal justice system including its meaning.

  • Police: Officers responsible for maintaining law and order, investigating crimes, and apprehending criminals.
  • Detective: A specialist investigator working on complex criminal cases.
  • Surveillance: The monitoring of individuals or locations to gather evidence.
  •   Defendant: An individual accused of a crime in a court of law.
  •   Prosecutor: A lawyer representing the state or government in a criminal case.
  •   Evidence: Facts, objects, or information presented to establish the truth or falsehood of a claim.
  •   Verdict: The decision reached by a jury or judge in a trial.
  •   Sentence: The punishment was given to a convicted criminal.
  •   Prison: A facility where individuals convicted of crimes are incarcerated.
  •   Probation: A period of supervision granted instead of imprisonment.
  •   Rehabilitation: Programs aimed at reforming offenders and reintegrating them into society.
  •   Community Service: Unpaid work performed by offenders as a form of punishment.
  •   Parole: Early release from prison, with continued supervision and conditions.

Basic Vocabulary for Crime Prevention and Security 

  • CCTV: Closed-circuit television systems used for surveillance.
  • Alarm System: An electronic device designed to alert in case of unauthorized entry or security breach.
  • Neighbourhood Watch: A community-based program for preventing crime through vigilance and cooperation.
  • Cybersecurity : Protection against unauthorized access, theft, or damage to computer systems or data.
  • Self-Defence: Techniques and methods to protect oneself from physical harm.
  • Legislation: Laws created by a governing body to regulate and control various aspects of society.
  • Deterrence: The use of punishment as a means to discourage potential offenders.
  • Rehabilitation: The aim of the criminal justice system is to reform and reintegrate offenders into society.
  • Restorative Justice: An approach focused on repairing the harm caused by crime through dialogue and reconciliation.
  • Human Rights: Fundamental rights and freedoms to which all individuals are entitled.

Crime vocabulary is crucial in the IELTS exam as it demonstrates a strong lexical resource, which is one of the key criteria for scoring high on the test. It also allows you to effectively analyze and discuss crime-related issues, which are commonly addressed in the IELTS speaking and writing tasks.

To expand your crime vocabulary, you can engage in various activities. Firstly, read extensively on crime-related topics such as news articles, books, and online resources. Pay attention to the vocabulary used to describe different types of crimes, legal terminology, and the criminal justice system. Secondly, watch documentaries or movies centred around crime and take note of the vocabulary used in those contexts.

Here are a few crime-related idioms and phrasal verbs that you can incorporate into your IELTS preparation. (1) Caught Red-handed: Caught in the act of committing a crime or doing something wrong. (2) Break Into: To enter a building unlawfully, usually with the intent to steal.

A strong command of crime-related vocabulary is essential for excelling in the IELTS exam, especially in the speaking and writing sections. By familiarizing themselves with the diverse range of crime vocabulary presented in this essay, test takers can articulate their thoughts effectively and display them.

Candidates who want to prepare for IELTS or any other language proficiency test, can Build a plan with Leverage Edu ‘s Leverage Live classes and our top trainers and strengthen your English score as well as your application so that you can secure your spot in your dream college.

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A bachelors in Journalism and Mass Communication graduate, I am an enthusiastic writer. I love to write about impactful content which can help others. I love to binge watch and listen to music during my free time.

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IELTS Essay About Crime – Innate or Environmental?

Posted by David S. Wills | Dec 19, 2020 | Model Essays | 0

IELTS Essay About Crime – Innate or Environmental?

Today, I want to share with you an essay I wrote recently that I think is useful to demonstrate some good language and also a strong approach to structure for task 2 . This essay deals with the tricky topic of crime and in particular it asks whether criminals are driven by circumstances or whether the criminal mentality is innate.

Analysing the Question

First of all, let’s look at the question. It is important to study it properly in order to give a good answer.

Some think most crime is the result of circumstances e.g. poverty and other social problems. Others believe that most crime is caused by people who are bad by nature. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

This is a “discuss both views” question, which means that it is pretty straightforward to understand. There are two views and we need to discuss them both and also give our own opinion:

  • Criminals are driven by their circumstances
  • Criminals are innately bad people

These two ideas are the ones you should discuss in the body of your essay and you should choose one of the following positions:

  • Agree with the first position
  • Agree with the second position
  • Partially agree with both (ie a balanced view)  

Do you need to talk about the example given in the question?

Often, when I mark essays for my IELTS writing correction service , I notice that students devote a lot of their essay to the examples given in the question. However, these are just examples and they are not the whole question. You should not become too fixated upon them.

In this case, the examples are “poverty and other social problems.” You can choose to talk about these or ignore them, but you definitely should not act like these are the main point of the question. They are simply there to illustrate what “circumstances” means.

When it comes to “discuss both views” questions, your structure is pretty easy. I would recommend writing an essay like this:

This is very simple, but of course it is more of a challenge to actually write the essay.

My position in this essay is that crime is generally a result of a person’s circumstances, but that there are some traits that may be innate. I will deal with the innate aspect first, then slightly refute it, before concentrating on the circumstances viewpoint.

My structure will look like this:

This essay would fulfil all the necessary criteria for a high band score if written with good vocabulary and grammar.

Picking the Right Vocabulary

I wrote an article recently about the crime and punishment topic in the IELTS exam. I also made this video about the topic to help you learn vocabulary:

In this particular essay, I don’t really need to talk about aspects of punishment, so it is not important to focus on that. Rather, I would look at words related to crime and criminals, and also into ideas about environment and biology.

By those last two words, I mean the issue of nature vs nurture . This refers to whether people are born with certain traits or develop them over their life. It would be good to know about this at even a basic level in order to give a good answer.

Here are some words and phrases from my essay:

  • innately bad
  • a more liberal approach
  • acts of desperation
  • hereditary psychological condition
  • predilection towards violence
  • controversial perspective
  • traumatic backgrounds
  • criminal compunctions
  • impoverished communities
  • crime flourishes
  • overlook social norms
  • empathic perspective
  • conditioned
  • unfortunate circumstances

You can see how these are used in the following essay.

Sample Band 9 Answer

Throughout history, people tended to believe that crimes were committed by those who were innately bad, but in the modern era a more liberal approach has led to the idea that crimes are often acts of desperation, committed by people whose circumstances are bleak. This essay will explore both perspectives, concluding that the latter is usually true.

First of all, it should be noted that some crimes are committed by people who appear innately driven towards such acts. These people may have some sort of hereditary psychological condition that means they do not feel empathy for others, or a predilection towards violence. This is a controversial perspective and although it feels true for many, it is hard to prove. Many of the most violent criminals have traumatic backgrounds, such as child abuse, neglect, or sexual assault, which suggests that they were not born with their criminal compunctions, but rather that these developed very early, which thus places them more into the circumstances than nature category. However, the lines are blurry.

Certainly, it does seem as though most criminals are created out of difficult circumstances. To understand this, one just has to look at impoverished communities around the world. These are places where crime flourishes because the people there are desperate and forced to do immoral things in order to survive. In such states of despair, people tend to put themselves first and overlook social norms, laws, and the usual empathic perspective that would stop most people from hurting others. In such areas, people tend to be conditioned for a young age to ignore the law or even social decency, joining gangs and becoming influenced by dangerous people. This tends to be a problem due to a lack of resources, opportunities, and education in such areas.

In conclusion, it appears likely that most crime is the result of people’s unfortunate circumstances, meaning that criminals are not inherently bad. However, there may be some people who were born with a certain compunction towards violent or criminal activity.

About The Author

David S. Wills

David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and the founder/editor of Beatdom literary journal. He lives and works in rural Cambodia and loves to travel. He has worked as an IELTS tutor since 2010, has completed both TEFL and CELTA courses, and has a certificate from Cambridge for Teaching Writing. David has worked in many different countries, and for several years designed a writing course for the University of Worcester. In 2018, he wrote the popular IELTS handbook, Grammar for IELTS Writing and he has since written two other books about IELTS. His other IELTS website is called IELTS Teaching.

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IELTS writing vocabulary: the law

Home  »  IELTS vocabulary  »  IELTS writing vocabulary: the law

Collocations and examples sentences

Violent offender : The violent offender was arrested and taken to jail.

Ultimate goal : The runner’s ultimate goal was to win the race.

Small confines : The puppy was placed in small confines so he would not use the bathroom in his cage.

Cell blocks : The cell blocks of the prison held inmates of all shapes and sizes.

General population : She was very smart compared to the knowledge of the general population.

Social contact : The toddler needed more social contact with other toddlers in order to learn how to share and be kind.

Disruptive behavior : I was kicked out of the classroom for my loud antics and disruptive behavior.

Emergency response : The girl collapsed on the floor and we dialed 999 for the emergency response team.

Correctional facility : The purpose of the correctional facility was to try and teach prisoners to behave better and be less violent.

Brute force : We had to use brute force to open the rusty door.

Training academy : The soldier had to go through a training academy in order to become part of the Army.

Internal politics : The school’s internal politics involving finding a new principal caused the faculty to fight with one another.

Controversial component : The issue of electing a woman president has become a big controversial component in the 2016 election.

Intimidation technique : The school bully used an intimidation technique of

Safe environment : The church provided a safe environment for members who were feeling threatened at home.

5 questions eliciting the collocations:

1. How does Dan describe the conditions of the prison he visited and what were his first reactions and feelings to this environment?

2. How does the initial protocol of “contain and control” using the “hole” cause prisoners to become worse as opposed to making them better?

3. What are the consequences of meeting violence with force and chaos with chaos? Dan relates this tactic to putting out fire with fire.

4. What strategies did Dan’s team of officers apply in order to prevent violence and bad behavior in prisons?

5. How does Dan prove that prisons can help inmates live meaningful lives?

Video: Listen to the topic vocabulary in use

Task 2 sample essay - with collocations removed (gap fill task).

It is a common viewpoint in today’s society that someone who has been labeled as a criminal for committing illegal activity is unable to change his or her identity and will always be considered a criminal. Does this viewpoint align with yours? Support your argument with specific reasoning.

Many people in today’s society believe that criminals cannot change their identity and will remain criminals forever. However, there is reason to believe that this viewpoint is false. With increased ______ _______ between prisoners as well as officers, a ____ ___________ can be created in which prisoners can improve themselves and change who they are. This essay will discuss why it may be possible for criminals to abandon their past and live meaningful lives in their future.

Firstly, people always have the power to change their situation and their lives for the better. A criminal’s life is not fixed forever and prison can help these _______ _________ better themselves, hence the titling of most prisons as “____________ ___________.”

For example, a recent study showed that when the _______ __________ interacted with prisoners before prison and again after prison, they could tell a positive difference in the prisoner’s demeanor. Therefore, it is possible for prisoners to change with the help of prison.

Secondly, people outside of prison have proven change is possible is everyday life and because criminals are human like everyone else, change is possible for them as well. Various prisons strive to make inmates’ lives more meaningful, because they believe in the power of change.

For example, many prisons have abandoned ____________ __________ and the use of _____ _____. Instead, the ________ ____ of officers is to combat __________ ________ with nonviolence strategies. These radical techniques have resulted in great success and have proven that criminals can change for the better.

In conclusion, while some individuals in prison may not have the power to improve themselves, many criminals have gone through prison and proven that they can abandon their past and live meaningful lives.

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