They turned him in to the police.
They turned him over to the police.
Are they exactly the same in meaning?

  • Though they are similar, the first gives me the impression of delivering someone to a police station, whereas with the second, the police might already be outside looking for him, chasing him, raiding his house, etc.
    – legatrix
    Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 8:21

2 Answers 2


According to the Cambridge Dictionary, Turn somebody in means taking a criminal to the police. In my opinion, it can also mean telling the police where the criminal is, so that they can arrest them. Collins Dictionary agrees with me on this.

This expression is often used reflexively:

The driver turned himself in two days after the accident

According to Merriam Webster (US) it can also mean to betray somebody, i.e. tell the police who committed a crime. I don't think that it has this meaning in the UK, though there is an informal expression dob somebody in which means to secretly tell the police that somebody has committed a crime.

To turn somebody over to the police means "take a criminal to the police or other authority"


I would understand turn him over to mean transfer physical possession, as in: The local police turned the prisoner over to the federal marshal.

Turn him in often means only to tell the police that he is the one they want.

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