PLANS to merge Dorset Police with Devon and Cornwall Police - creating the fifth largest force in the UK - are to go before the public this summer.

As reported in the Daily Echo, the two constabularies are already in a strategic alliance, which advocates say results in "significant efficiencies". A quarter of all staff currently operate within the alliance, including officers serving in roads policing, firearms and dog units.

However, a merger would create a new force responsible for around two-and-a-half million permanent residents in the 200 miles between Land's End and Highcliffe.

If the merger is approved, the force will 'streamline' staff in management roles. One police and crime commissioner (PCC) and one chief constable would lose their job in the overhaul.

Dorset's PCC Martyn Underhill said the merger is "not about egos".

"Yes, I am a turkey voting for Christmas, but it's the right thing to do," he said.

"We are all in agreement that this is the right thing."

Mr Underhill said the size of the new force would give the region greater clout nationally, including at Whitehall.

"It's very exciting," he said.

"This the first chief constable-led merger in the last century. Such mergers are generally driven by the government.

"This isn't politically-driven. It's driven by operational police officers."

At a recent serious crash in Purbeck, the officer in charge travelled from Devon to investigate.

Dorset's chief constable James Vaughan said: "By working closer together, cutting duplication and making the most of our combined resources, a merger would help develop local and neighbourhood policing, protect our communities and improve the service we deliver to the public.

“A merged force would provide a single vision that would continue to deliver future savings and build capabilities through merging which even a developed alliance could not achieve. We would increase the amount of savings we can make, allowing us to be more innovative and transform the way we deliver our services.

Representatives from Mr Underhill's office will attend events and meetings throughout the summer to engage with residents.

Anyone who wants to have their say on the merger should visit until Monday, August 27 to complete a survey.

The results of the survey will form part of a business case which will be submitted to the Home Office in the autumn.