Crime and punishment trends

Legal English/ The language of trends

Explain some changes in law and order in your country, region, country, etc. Your partner will listen and give their opinion, see if they can add more details, ask for more details, etc. You can use words from the left-hand column and/ or the other columns below if you like.

(average) age of…

arrests for…

confidence in…

convictions for…

cost of…

education about…

fear of…


fiction about…

government campaigns on…

laws about…

length of…


panics about…

police time spent on…

press coverage of…

prosecutions for…


respect for…

the number of…


use of…


alternative punishments (ASBOs, ankle bracelets, community service, curfews, restorative justice, public apologies, etc)

(successful/ unsuccessful) appeals


… ban/ banned from…

capital punishment (= the death penalty, e.g. by hanging, by electric chair, by firing squad, by lethal injection, by stoning or by decapitation)

citizen’s arrests

civil cases (libel, slander, contested wills, etc)

(forced) confessions

copyright infringement (illegal downloads, etc)

corporal punishment (caning, whipping, maiming such as cutting off hands, etc)

corruption (bribery, nepotism, etc)

court cases

crime against property (arson, graffiti, vandalism, etc)

crime prevention technology (burglar alarms, car alarms, CCTV cameras, GPS tracking, breathalysers, metal detectors, stun guns/ Tasers, etc)

crimes by…

criminal record (checks)

cyber crime (hacking, denial of service attacks, ransomware, spyware, phishing scams, the dark web, etc)

discrimination (racial, sexual, age, etc)

driving offenses (speeding, drunk driving, dangerous driving, reckless driving, driving while under the influence, driving without insurance, driving without a license, driving an unsafe vehicle, underage driving, etc)

drug crime (trafficking, producing, selling, possession, etc)

evidence / clues (DNA evidence, footprints, fingerprints, eyewitnesses, electronic records, recordings, etc)

exploitation (child labour, modern day slavery, human trafficking, etc)

false convictions

financial crime (loan sharks, false accounting, tax evasion, etc)


financial penalties (fines, compensation, etc)


guard dogs

guilty pleas/ people pleading guilty/ non-contested cases

gun crime (drive-by shootings, 3D printed guns, etc)

hit and run

human rights abuses

identity theft

illegal gambling

illegal union activity

incarceration (open prison, high security prison/ jail/ gaol, prison cell, police cell, juvenile detention, borstal, etc)

informers (= snitches)/ tip offs

international arrest warrants


juvenile crime


knife crime (stabbings, muggings, etc)

law enforcement officials (parole officers, police officers, prison officers, coroners, customs agents, public prosecutors, etc)

lawyers (solicitors, barristers, scriveners, etc)


miscarriages of justice (false prosecutions, confessions obtained under duress, etc)

organised crime (gangsters, mafia, motorcycle gangs, street gangs, etc)



plain clothes police/ undercover police

plea bargaining

police boxes

police equipment (armoured vehicles, battering rams, handcuffs, helicopters, shotguns, side arms/ pistols, sniper rifles, tear gas, truncheons, water guns, wire taps, body cams, dashboard cameras, etc)

police patrols (bobbies on the beat, etc)

police stations

prison sentences (life sentences, with hard labour, etc)

private detectives (= PIs/ private investigators)

prosecution of accomplices (fences, etc)

prosecution rate

public prosecutors


recidivism (= reoffending)/ ex-cons…

restraining orders

security guards

self-defence (martial arts, pepper spray, rape alarm, etc)

sexual assault (rape, etc)

sexual harassment (e.g. groping on trains)

sharia law




Supreme Court (cases)

suspended sentences

terrorism (bombings, suicide attacks, ramming, etc)

the sex industry (prostitution, pimping, brothels, etc)

theft (shoplifting, burglary, pickpocketing, bag snatching, hold ups, mugging, etc)

(psychological) torture






violent crime (homicide/ murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, domestic abuse, GBH, assault, etc)


white collar crime (insider trading, tax fraud, Ponzi schemes, etc)

ways of catching criminals (forensics, ballistics, DNA analysis, car chases, trailing people, autopsies, phone tapping, search warrants,  stakeouts, etc)




Brainstorming stage

Without looking above for now, brainstorm as many examples as you can of each of the things below.

alternative punishments



kinds of capital punishment



topics of civil cases



kinds of corporal punishment



kinds of corruption



crimes against property



crime prevention technology



kinds of cyber crime



kinds of discrimination



driving offenses



kinds of drug crime/ crime related to drugs



kinds of evidence / clues



kinds of exploitation



kinds of financial crime




financial penalties



kinds of incarceration



law enforcement officials



kinds of lawyers



miscarriages of justice



kinds of organised crime



kinds of police equipment



kinds of self-defence



kinds of terrorism



kinds of theft



kinds of violent crime



kinds of white collar crime



ways of catching criminals



Check your answers above, then each group should tell the class at least two more that are not on the first pages but fit in the categories here.

 Discuss ways of catching criminals as a class.


PDF for easy saving and printing: Crime and punishment trends

Related pages

Trends page

Crime vocabulary page

Legal English page