THERE are no plans to merge Wiltshire Police with neighbouring county forces, police and crime commissioner Angus Macpherson said.

Speaking to South Swindon Parish Council this week, Mr Macpherson said the force already worked closely with neighbouring constabularies in Gloucestershire and Avon and Somerset.

It came as the National Audit Office criticised the Home Office, saying ministers lacked a long-term plan for policing and had little idea if England and Wales’ policing system was financially sustainable.

Wiltshire Police had seen a 30 per cent cut in funding from Westminster since 2010, the NAO found. Funding for Gloucestershire, Dorset and Avon and Somerset police forces fell by 29 per cent.

Angus Macpherson, who has served as Swindon and Wiltshire’s police and crime commissioner since 2012, said the NAO report supported what he had been telling the Home Office for some time: that Wiltshire got a smaller slice of the funding pot than other forces.

Asked whether the cuts in funding could lead to Wiltshire Police merging with its neighbours, Mr Macpherson told councillors: “I have no plans to merge Wiltshire Police with any other police force at the moment.

“We are working very closely with other police forces and we will continue to do so.

“I think there is an inevitability of police forces working more closely together and it’s absolutely right that they should.

“But I’m not even contemplating merging, because for me the strength of Wiltshire Police is its relationship with Wiltshire Council and Swindon Council and with people in their communities. That would, I think, be much weakened by being a national force.”

It would be a sad day if the Wiltshire force was to lose its connection with local communities, he said: “Strong policing is based in the community and that’s where it’s got to stay.”

But Mr Macpherson said councillors could expect to see Wiltshire Police working more closely with its neighbours: “When you’re talking about cyber-crime, child sexual exploitation and all these sorts of things, the resources needed to unpick them are better done over a bigger area.”

Armed policing and responsibility for investigating serious crimes like murders is already shared between Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Avon and Somerset, through the Tri-Force unit and Brunel major crime investigation team.

The drone service, set up by special constables, was a recent success story. The police commissioner thought it might offer a source of income for the force in the future, as other forces sent their officers to be trained by the Wiltshire experts.