Cash-strapped police in the East Midlands will merge IT services in an effort to protect front line spending.
Five forces - Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, and Northamptonshire - have agreed to work together to see what savings can be made.
Each force currently runs its own staff administration system, for example.
A spokeswoman for the East Midlands Police Collaboration Programme, which is overseeing the project, said it was at an early stage and that no decisions had been taken on how radical the reforms will be or how many jobs will be lost. The region is likely to be among the first to take such a step however, she said.
Deputy Chief Constable Peter Goodman, of Derbyshire Polce, said: "The economic climate is changing considerably which means how we operate as a police service will be significantly affected.
"Whilst there are efficiencies to be made within forces, these probably will not be enough to bridge the gap so all available options need to be considered."
The work is being led by Dean Elliott, Head of Information Services at Nottinghamshire Police, sources said.
"The five East Midlands forces have commissioned research regarding the creation of a collaborative Information Communication Technology (ICT) function," a statement from the five forces said.
"The Heads of ICT in the region are leading the work under the direction of an ACPO rank Senior Responsible Officer. The project will initially look at developing a shared and common infrastructure with a longer term view to the integration of services."
The coalition's Spending Review last month announced cuts of four per cent per year for four years in central government police funding.
A merger scheme drawn up under the previous government, which significantly cut the number of police forces nationally, and merged front line operations as well as back office functions, was scrapped in 2006 amid fears over the potential initial costs. ®