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TOPIC 10: Government and the authorities

About Topic 10

The Government and the authorities topic mostly includes law and order, crime and policing, justice and punishment. Occasionally the Task may refer to ways of managing public services, and relations between countries.

The Tasks may ask about public policy in terms of funding (Eg ‘How should prisons be run – by governments or by private organisations?’) but will not ask for your political views or about actual events in specific countries.

Topic 10 example Task

Some observers say that police officers should be recruited from the communities where they work, so that they have local knowledge. Other people say that this is unnecessary, or even undesirable. Where do you stand on this debate? Is local knowledge essential in modern policing?


Band 9 model essay

The need for effective, trustworthy police officers is paramount in society today, especially as criminals become more devious and creative. Regarding whether police should be locally hired, there is a case to be made on both sides of the debate.

Those who support local recruitment of officers point to the need for the police to understand the minutiae of the local community. For example, a community may have certain frictions or a history of a specific grievance, whether religious, political or otherwise. In such situations, the argument goes, the police need to show sensitivity, and also be able to anticipate the kinds of crimes that may be committed. Furthermore, local officers may find it easier to gain informants in the community, leading to strongerevidence at trials, higher conviction rates and a deterrent to crime throughsentencing, imprisonment, fines or community service leading to rehabilitation of the offender.

On the other hand, it seems likely that officers from the community may in fact share some of the tendencies of the people they grew up with. For example, in countries such as Mexico, we see a high incidence of corruption among the local business and government community which is equalled by bribery among the police. A second objection is that local sensitivity may lead to the police failing to enforce laws fully, and effectively making exceptions for some offenders, which is

unequitable towards law-abiding citizens. Finally, we must remember that police officers should have transferable skills, such as lateral thinking and investigative ability, which should transcend their background or the environment they are working in.

Overall, it seems to me that local knowledge is not absolutely essential for the police, whose skills should be effective in any context. Indeed, I agree with those who say that the risks of local recruitment outweigh the benefits, because of the danger of corruption and over-familiarity with potential offenders.

(318 words)



Trustworthy (đáng tin cậy) = capable of being trusted

E.g.      In most countries, politicians are regarded as untrustworthy and possibly corrupt.


Paramount (cực kì quan trọng) = of the greatest importance

E.g.      It is paramount that we find a solution to the problem of Internet piracy.


Devious (láu cá/ranh ma) = extremely clever in a dishonest way

E.g.      Online criminals today are devious, and use many different methods to deceive their victims.


Minutiae (chi tiết vụn vặt) (pronounced ‘my-new-shy’) = small details

E.g.      Nobody really understands the minutiae of the new tax code.



Grievance ( lời than phiền) = an issue which makes people upset or angry for a long time

E.g.      Some towns in the countryside have a grievance with central government because of land reform laws.


Sensitivity (sự nhạy bén/nhạy cảm) = being alert to the circumstances of a specific group of people

E.g.      Teachers should show sensitivity to students who have language difficulties.


To commit an offence/a crime (phạm tội) = to do it

E.g.      The President committed murder when he arranged for his opponent to be assassinated.


informants (người đưa tin) = people who tell the police useful information about criminals in their area

E.g.      The police paid the informant for information about who organised the riots.


Evidence (bằng chứng) = material presented in court to prove that someone is guilty or innocent

E.g.      The police had a lot of DNA evidence against her, but no witness statements.


A trial = the legal procedure of (phiên tòa) prosecuting someone for a crime

E.g.      A murder trial can last for many weeks and cost millions of Euros to conduct.

Conviction rates (tỉ lệ án tù) = the percentage of accused people who are convicted of (= found to be guilty of) a crime

E.g.      Conviction rates for burglary are low; only about 30% of trials result in a conviction.



A deterrent (vật cản) = something that makes people not want to do something (verb = to deter)

E.g.      We have a guard dog as a deterrent against intruders at night. It deters people from coming into our garden.


Sentencing (bản án) = the action of telling a convicted criminal what the punishment is (verb = to sentence)


Imprisonment (tống giam) = punishment by being in prison

E.g.      He was sentenced to five years imprisonment for the armed robbery of a shop.


A fine (tiền phạt) = money paid as a punishment

E.g.      The fine for speeding in my country is about 200 Euros.


Community service (dịch vụ cộng đồng) = punishment by doing manual work for the public

E.g.      Her community service consisted of cleaning the town parks and sweeping litter in the streets.


Rehabilitation (cải tạo) = the process of changing a criminal’s character so that he does not commit more crimes (verb = to rehabilitate someone)

E.g.      Some prisons use music and drama to rehabilitate offenders. Others say there is no point in trying.


An offender (người phạm tội) = a person who commits an offence

E.g.      The government should provide training for offenders in prison, so that they don’t turn to crime again when they leave.


Tendencies (xu hướng) = inclinations due to your character (usually negative)

E.g.      Some young people in cities have tendencies towards graffiti and vandalism.


Corruption (sự lạm quyền) = the crime when an official breaks laws to help people that he knows. Embezzlement (sự tham nhũng), bribery (sự hối lộ)

E.g.      Corruption is widespread in the police in some developing countries.


Bribery (sự hối lộ) = the crime of giving money to officials to get something done (verb = to bribe someone)

E.g.      I had to bribe a customs inspector to get my luggage through the airport.


To enforce laws (thi hành luật pháp) = to apply them to people

E.g.      The police are not enforcing the laws about dropping litter in public. They should arrest more people for this.


Unequitable (không công bằng) = unfair or different for different groups

E.g.      It is unequitable to arrest young people for speeding, but not older people.


Law-abiding (tôn trọng luật pháp) = following all the laws in a proper way

E.g.      I am a law-abiding citizen. I never break the speed limit or any other laws.


Transferable skills (kĩ năng xoay chuyển) = skills that can be used in different situations. Knowledge-based skills (kĩ năng chuyên môn)

E.g.      I have transferable skills which I use in both my professional career and my fund-raising work for charities.


Lateral thinking (tư duy sáng tạo) = the ability to think creatively and in new ways. Logical thinking (tư duy logic)

E.g.      Facebook and Google are great examples of companies that have grown on lateral thinking.


Investigative (điều tra) = adjective from ‘to investigate’ = to enquire about the causes of a crime or a problem

E.g.      The police refused to investigate the Prime Minister, leading to accusations of corruption.


To transcend a situation (vượt quá khả năng) = to be bigger or go beyond it

E.g.      The need for reducing financial waste transcends the government – everybody should be spending money more carefully.


A context (ngữ cảnh) = a specific situation

E.g.      Armed police evidently work well in the American context, but would be less effective in a British context.


To outweigh (nhiều ảnh hưởng hơn) = to be more important than

E.g.      The advantages of having a diesel car outweigh the costs.


Over-familiarity (quá thân thiết) = when an official is too friendly with the public