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.

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

Activity 1

Exercise 1 – Choose which of the crimes completes the following sentences
1. Young people need activities to keep them off the streets and deter them from committing petty crimes like ______1________ and graffiti.

2. The man’s actions turned over 500 hectares of forest into ash and cinders, so he was convicted of _____2______.

3. _______3_________ is a big worry for many consumers who make purchases online. The thought of someone taking out loans and credit cards in your name can be terrifying.

4. _______4_________ gangs control much of the ________5_________ and _________6_________ around the world, and the two crimes are very oftencontrolled by the same people.

5. The woman was given a ten-year-sentence after being convicted of _____7_________ for killing a cyclist whilst she was_____8__________. The woman was found to be four times over the legal limit.

6. One of the major problems in Latin America is ______9______ and corruption amongst public officials. In many cases, you need to pay extra if you want things to be done in an timely or efficient manner.

7. Many people argue that Portugal is a good example of how not prosecuting for personal ______10_________ is more effective at reducing addiction and overdose rates than giving out harsh sentences to users.

  1. vandalism
  2. arson
  3. identity theft
  4. organised crime
  5. drug trafficking
  6. people trafficking
  7. manslaughter
  8. drink driving
  9. bribery
  10. 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

Activity 2

Should police in your area be more or less strict in your local area?

I think police in my area should be stricter with low level crimes like _________1__________ to public property because I think that would deter people from _____2__________ because they would be worried about going to ___3_______ again. I also think that _____4_______ should hand down tougher sentences for guilty ______5______ to remove criminals from the streets.

Is your country a safe country?

Unfortunately my country is quite dangerous because we have a big problem with_____6_______ and the production of illicit substances. Something else that makes it unsafe is the_______7________ amongst police and public officials. Aside from being corrupt, the police here rarely _____8_______ people for any crime so the overall____9_________ rate is extremely low.

  1. vandalism
  2. reoffending
  3. jail
  4. judges
  5. verdicts
  6. drug trafficking
  7. corruption
  8. arrest
  9. conviction

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

Activity 3

Exercise 3 – Answer the IELTS sample questions by choosing the correct word to complete the sentenceDo you think criminals can change?

Yes I think criminals can change as long as they are helped to ________1__________ upon their release. Many people ______2________ initially because of traumatic events in their childhood or because of poverty. I think that helping people get over these problems will prevent them from ____3____________ when they get out of jail. I also think that handing down ________4________ does not _________5___________ because most criminals do not expect that they will get caught when they commit an_______6___________.

What is the best way to keep communities safe?

I think that the best way to make communities safe is for the police and judges to get ___7______ and show _____8________ by following the ____9______and handing out the toughest sentences possible for all offenses, no matter how minor. I think this is the only effective way _____10_____ ___people from committing crimes.

  1. reintegrate back into society
  2. turn to crime
  3. reoffending
  4. harsh sentences
  5. act as a deterrent
  6. offence
  7. tough on crime
  8. zero tolerance
  9. letter of the law
  10. to deter

For more practice, visit vocabulary for job & work.

Vocab articles short lists

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