With reference to this question Collective noun "police" — singular or plural? and as per my understanding police is always plural. But I got shocked after seeing police used as a singular noun in this article:

Two days after the death of the 23-year-old gangrape victim, Delhi Police on Monday said it has finalised around 1,000-page chargesheet in connection with the incident and plans to submit it in court on Thursday.

I can't figure out why they have used police as singular. It's one of the prominent newspapers in India. I doubt myself about its usage. Could anyone elucidate it further?

  • 1
    I took a quick look at the article you cite, but don't see police used singularly. Can you edit to add the specific sentence you have questions about?
    – Jim
    Dec 31, 2012 at 17:14
  • @Jim How to cite specific sentence?
    – Sudhir
    Dec 31, 2012 at 17:15
  • 1
    @Sudhir- use a greater-than sign at the beginning of a line and then cut the words from the article and paste them in after it.
    – Jim
    Dec 31, 2012 at 17:18
  • In the highlighted section of your question police is not being used as singular. Dec 31, 2012 at 18:27
  • 1
    @spiceokooko "Delhi Police ... said it has finalised ... But elsewhere in the article a sentence begins "Police have slapped ... ". Both exhibit another nonSE usage, omission of the usual definite article. Dec 31, 2012 at 18:37

3 Answers 3


Singular the police seems to be very common in Indian English journalism.

Googling “the police have” and “the police has” with “site:indiatimes.com” yields claims of 1,430,000 hits for the plural and 525,000 hits for the singular—and on a quick “eyeball” survey the singular hits appear to be only about 5% or 10% false positives like “trust in the police has been shaken”. “site:hindustantimes.com” yields 246,000 for the plural and 32,000 for the singular, and “site:tribuneindia.com” yields a 7:1 preponderance of singular uses: 176,000 hits against23,000 hits on the plural.

  • @ StoneyB: So its common in Indian English journalism that police is used as singular more than that of plural?
    – Sudhir
    Dec 31, 2012 at 18:22
  • @Sudhir Well, as you see, what I present is just a glance, not a detailed survey. The Times of India prefers the plural by about 3:1, Hindustan Times prefers the plural by 8:1; but The Tribune prefers the singular by 7:1. It looks to me like in Indian English you get to choose which you prefer. See also my Comment beneath your question. Dec 31, 2012 at 18:33
  • 1
    It may be common there, but that it is hardly Standard English, is it now?
    – tchrist
    Dec 31, 2012 at 19:18
  • @tchrist It is not now; but it may become so. There's certainly nothing in the grammar to forbid it. Dec 31, 2012 at 20:40
  • There may be slightly more to it: The Metropolitan Police (of London) is generally singular but it's never without its definite article. One would write "The Met uses sirens a lot; Sussex Police don't do that."
    – Andrew Leach
    Jan 1, 2013 at 13:18

This site gives a good reasoning on why collective nouns are used in singular and plural ways.

The police act as a single unit in the news report, so their actions are as a single unit. If the police were acting individually, then they would be referred to in the plural

  • 1
    "If the police were doing multiple things, then they would be referred to in the plural." What? I don't think that's correct.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Dec 31, 2012 at 17:56
  • @KitFox, changed explanation, to try to make it clearer.
    – SeanC
    Dec 31, 2012 at 18:06
  • But there are exceptions to the availability of both forms of agreement; 'police' certainly providing one in 'BrE' and probably 'AmE'. 'Manchester police has said it is investigating ...' would never be used. Oct 7, 2017 at 10:34

In addition to the other reasons presented, the term Delhi Police is a proper noun that is essentially a shortening of the Delhi Police Department, which normally would be spoken of in the singular.

Similarly, you would say "Customs has cleared my package for export." Even though Customs is clearly a plural word, it is functioning as a short form of the Customs Department.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.