Plans to merge Devon and Cornwall Police with Dorset Police have been backed by North Devon’s superintendent.

A public consultation asking if the two police forces should merge is already underway, and runs until the end of August.

Should the merger go ahead, it would be the first time English constabularies have joined forces since the current structure was established and would make it the fifth largest police force in the country.

Addressing a full North Devon Council meeting on Wednesday evening, North and West Devon Superintendent Toby Davies said the possibility of sharing departments meant there would be more opportunities to bring savings to front line policing.

He said: “I’ve been asked for my view. Personally I don’t really care if I’m in Wiltshere, Dorset, Devon or Somerset. If we can save money which can be put back into local policing and local forces – that’s all I care about.

“What’s really nice about areas like North Devon is that people see themselves as North Devon officers. Of course there’s Devon and Cornwall and I am sure there will be pride about Dorset, but there’s an alignment to North Devon.

“I think there’s a great chance we will be able to protect these services merging with Dorset.

“We’re already in a strategic alliance with Dorset and 25 per cent of our force functions work together across Devon, Cornwall and Dorset.

“The proposal is the first time in the country that forces have voluntarily made a decision to come together as one force.

“The force would then become one of the largest in the country, which will give us a great voice on the national stage.”

The plans for a merger were announced in September last year.

At the time, a joint statement from the forces respective chief constables said a merger would ‘create a more resilient police force’ and said closer working was ‘the only way forward’ in the wake of funding challenges.

The survey about the proposed merger runs until Monday, August 27. The results will then form part of a business case that will need to be submitted to the Home Office by October 12.