South Yorkshire Police’s major investigation team could merge with teams in neighbouring forces in a bid to cut costs.
The team, which investigates most of the county’s murders, could join a new regional unit with officers from West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Humberside.
Chief constables from all four forces are discussing the plan.
They could each reduce the number of detectives, police officers and civilian investigators employed in their individual teams, with the new team responding to incidents around the region.
It is one of a number of mergers being considered by police chiefs, with a regional armed response unit also a possibility.
Bosses are also looking at setting up a regional dog unit, instead of individual forces all having their own.
Chief Constable David Crompton, of South Yorkshire Police, said ‘shared facilities’ were necessary because of Government funding cuts – with chiefs needing to save £50 million over the next four years.
The force already shares IT and human resources departments with Humberside, while the underwater search unit is shared by all Yorkshire forces and Humberside – and Mr Crompton said he expected full mergers in the future.
He said: “We are looking at shared facilities, such as dogs, firearms and major incident teams.
“I think, in the long term, it will be inevitable police forces will start to merge.
“It might be the only way we can go to save money – we have to balance the budgets.
“The challenge would then be how to make people feel they have a say in policing in their communities if their force is getting bigger.”
Neil Bowles, of the Police Federation’s South Yorkshire branch, said: “It would probably be more efficient for specialised aspects of policing to merge. However the public want to know who their bobby is – or at least be confident local police know the issues and criminals in their area.”