Devon and Cornwall and Dorset’s police forces announced the plans, which could include a full merger, today (Wednesday).

Plans to merge Devon and Cornwall and Dorset's police forces have been 'broadly welcomed' by North Devon's member of parliament.

It follows an announcement from the chief constables of the two police forces today (Wednesday).

In a joint statement, chief constables Shaun Sawyer from Devon and Cornwall Police, and Debbie Simpson of Dorset Police, 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.

North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones said he and North Devon Council leader Des Brailey would be working together to ensure North Devon would be 'appropriately served' by any future arrangement.

"I have spoken to the chief constable of Devon and Cornwall and made clear that whilst I am supportive in principle, I will seek assurances that North Devon will be appropriately served by any future arrangements," said Mr Heaton-Jones.

"I welcome any moves which mean police resources can be more efficiently deployed and effectively targeted.

"Already these two police forces work closely in many areas and share a large number of 'back office' operations. It therefore makes sense to explore the benefits of further collaboration.

"I will continue to ensure that North Devon gets its voice heard, receives its fair share, and is given the proper attention it needs in any future policing arrangements."

Mr Brailey said those in North Devon need to be assured there will be no reductions in support from the police.

"Naturally to amalgamate two services into one will have financial benefits, however in North Devon we need to be assured that there will be no reduction in the support we receive from the police," he said.

"It is fully understood that policing requirements have changed considerably and I am sure this will help provide protection for our community, but both Peter Heaton-Jones and I will be monitoring progress very carefully."

Councillor John Matthews, head of North Devon Council's police and crime panel said he was 'pleased both chief constables are looking at ways to reduce costs' and 'make both forces more efficient'.