GLOUCESTERSHIRE’S police service could suffer if Government plans to merge all forces in the South West go ahead, the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner has warned.

Talking on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show, Martin Surl said a combined force would be less agile, less responsive to local issues and would not save any money.

In a debate with Conservative Bath MP Ben Howett, he said he would be running his campaign for re-election on a platform of resisting any mergers.

Early plans state the area's five forces: Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire could combine.

“I want people concentrating on Gloucestershire, I want people who understand local issues.

“There is no evidence [larger forces] are cheaper.”

The police forces in the area already work together closely to prevent crime, Mr Surl added.

Mr Howett hit back at the claims, saying “criminals did not stop at borders” and adding the regional South West ambulance service was a good example to follow.

District and county councillors recently voted to demand change to the ambulance service, with Cotswold council leader Lynden Stowe saying it was “no longer fit for purpose as it is”.

The Sunday show also featured a segment by Dr Tim Brain, chief constable of Gloucestershire Police for nine years, who made his view on the matter clear as he strolled around Tetbury’s police museum.

“Here’s my old uniform on display,” he said. “”Now some people want to get rid of my old role, and my old force.”

He added there was a “growing clamour” for forces to merge in the South West.

“I do not buy the argument that merging our forces would save money, setting up a force from Truro to Tewskesbury would be hugely expensive and running it could prove even more costly.

“I’d rather be spending my money on more police officers.”

Gloucestershire chief constable Suzette Davenport said: "There are no plans for a strategic alliance. We continue to work with our regional colleagues on already established operational areas and are developing further areas that include ICT.

"We will always actively engage in programmes of work where we believe that they will deliver benefits for: service delivery and /or reduced costs, and thus provide a better service to the public.

"We are already working on IT collaboration across the South West, which could have huge benefits in terms of aligning the systems we use and delivering efficiencies and are already working in collaboration with our regional partner forces as part of the very successful Tri-Force roads policing team and Major Crime Investigation Team."