A new police force covering a patch 250 miles wide and with more than 1,000 miles of coast could be created by the merger of two forces.
The chief constables of Devon & Cornwall and Dorset police have written to the government saying they want to explore the possibility of a merger.
They deny that it is simply about saving money but claim a merger could be a way of making a more efficient single force. The forces will consult members of the public, local councils and MPs. The idea is likely to be met with resistance if a merger leads to any cut in the number of officers.
If it does happen it will be one of the biggest shake-ups since 1974, when the existing structure came into being. There are currently 43 police forces in England and Wales.Shaun Sawyer, the Devon & Cornwall chief, and Debbie Simpson, chief of the Dorset force, made the announcement in Exmouth in Devon.