Which one is better?

The Police needed him for armed robbery.


The Police was after him for armed robbery.

  • 5
    Well, it would be, "The police were after him for armed robbery. "Police" is treated as a plural collective noun.
    – Nick
    Dec 7, 2017 at 7:09
  • 3
    The police need him for armed robbery = they would like to commit armed robbery, but they can't do it without him :) Dec 7, 2017 at 12:40
  • Or "The police wanted him for armed robbery." Note that wanted is very different from needed in this context!
    – stangdon
    Dec 7, 2017 at 14:55

1 Answer 1


The better choice is:

"The police were after him for armed robbery."

You should remember that, in English, whether it be American, British, Australian, or any variant or dialect of English, "police" is a plural collective noun. An example of this is:

"The police are at the door, sir."

  • "The thief was after him for robbery." implies that the thief was following him because he wanted to rob him. "The police were after him for armed robbery." Can refer to the same thing,which is "the police was after to rob him.” I could be wrong please enlighten me. Dec 7, 2017 at 9:36
  • 2
    @confusedguy - The phrase “after him” doesn’t really mean “following him” – it’s more akin to “searching for him”, as in a manhunt. And the idea that the police want to commit armed robbery is so unusual you would need to be more explicit and clear in the sentence (such as, “The police intended to use their weapons to rob him.”) As for, The police were after him for armed robbery, that’s pretty clear – it means the police are looking for the robber.
    – J.R.
    Dec 7, 2017 at 10:54

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