The public are to be asked if Devon and Cornwall’s police force should merge with Dorset.
A public consultation for residents of the three counties will ask whether they support changes which create one force that would stretch from Bournemouth to the Isles of Scilly.
Devon and Cornwall’s Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez told a meeting of the police and crime panel today (Friday) that she will only support the merger if the public are behind it and there is a clear business case to make the change.
And she added that no decision has yet been made as to whether Devon and Cornwall and Dorset’s police forces will merge.
The panel were also told there would need to be sufficient support from local MPs, local authorities, staff and unions, as well as policing bodies and the panel itself, if the proposed merger was to go ahead.
There is already an alliance between the two constabularies, which sees joint work across 19 functions and has resulted in more money for frontline policing.
Ms Hernandez said: “There is a shared view from the chief constables that a merger of the two forces offers the best long-term solution for all parties.
“However, in considering the future it is important that we understand the community impact of any decisions in this area. I will not support a merger unless it is in the best interests of the people of Devon and Cornwall.”
The precept levied on households to pay for policing is currently £18 lower in Devon and Cornwall than in Dorset but this could change if the merger happened.
Any full business case will need to be submitted to the Home Office by October 12.
An emergency meeting of the panel was arranged to take place prior to their next scheduled meeting on September 14 when they would be making their recommendation as to whether to support the merger or not.
Ms Hernandez urged members of the public to carefully consider the implications of a merger and take part in a major consultation that will open this month and run across the summer.
Questionnaires will be available online and at events such as district shows.