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IELTS Task 2 Writing Question and Sample Answer – Crime & Punishment

IELTS Task 2 Writing Question and Sample Answer – Crime & Punishment

Read the question below and think about how you would answer it. Making a note of how you will structure your essay and the ideas you could include in your paragraphs is a good idea.

‘In many countries, the issue of crime and punishment is a topic of debate. Some people believe that harsh punishments are necessary to deter criminals. Others argue that there are alternative methods that are more effective in reducing crime. Discuss both views and give your opinion.’ You should write at least 250 words.

Now compare your planning notes to the ideas presented below. There are a number of ways you could approach the essay, so if your ideas are different, it does not mean they are wrong!

Essay planning:


Paraphrase the question, state that two opinions will be discussed.

Body Paragraph 1:

Argument for harsh punishments

Deterrence effect: Fear of severe consequences may prevent people from committing crimes.

Examples supporting this view. Strict drug policy in Singapore.

Body Paragraph 2:

Argument for alternative methods

Rehabilitation: Focus on reforming criminals can reduce reoffending rates.

Education and social support: Addressing root causes of crime such as poverty and lack of opportunity.

Examples supporting this view. Focus on rehabilitation in Scandinavian countries.


Summarise the arguments presented, and state opinion (balanced approach).

Now practise writing your essay. You can then read the sample answer given below to compare your ideas and approach.

Sample answer

The issue of lawbreaking and how to address the problem sparks intense discussion across the world. While some argue for the necessity of severe penalties as a deterrent, others advocate for more rehabilitative approaches. This essay will discuss both perspectives before presenting a reasoned point of view.

On one hand, proponents of harsh punishments believe that strict penalties serve as a powerful deterrent against crime. The fear of facing severe consequences such as lengthy prison sentences or even capital punishment could dissuade potential offenders from engaging in criminal activities. For instance, countries like Singapore have implemented strict punitive measures for drug trafficking, which are credited with contributing to low drug-related crime rates.

On the other hand, others argue that addressing the root causes of crime is more effective in reducing criminal behaviour in the long term. By focusing on reforming offenders, rehabilitation programmes aim to reintegrate individuals into society as law-abiding citizens. This approach not only reduces reoffending rates but also addresses social inequalities and systemic issues that often underpin criminal behaviour. For example, Scandinavian countries prioritise rehabilitation over punitive measures and have achieved lower crime rates and higher rates of offender reintegration into society as productive members while focussing on the principles of justice and fairness.

To conclude, while severe punishments may have a deterrent effect in some cases, the benefits of rehabilitation and addressing root causes of crime cannot be overlooked. It can be argued that a balanced approach that combines both deterrence and rehabilitation strategies tailored to individual circumstances and severity of the offence may offer the most promising path towards reducing crime rates and fostering safer communities.

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