An abortive attempt by the government to merge police forces in the east of England has cost more than £1m, BBC News can reveal.
The figure - enough to pay the salaries of 55 junior police officers - was spent on consultations, meetings, literature and staff.
The forces are seeking compensation from the government, so that policing does not suffer.
The Home Office said it was still considering compensation claims.
COSTS OF MERGER DISCUSSIONS AND PLANNING
Thames Valley £186,000
The plan put forward was to merge Bedfordshire with Essex and Hertfordshire, and possibly merge Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.
Northamptonshire would have been merged into a new East Midlands force.
Peter Conniff, chairman of Bedfordshire Police Authority, said the force was seeking £103,000 from the Home Office, but had been warned it may only receive about a fifth of this.
"We will have to find the shortfall of around £80,000 - the equivalent of three front-line officers," he said. "Along with other authorities we feel quite angry."
Robert Chambers, Essex Police Authority's chairman, said the force was seeking £166,000 from the government to cover the costs of preparations for a possible merger.
"I am hoping the government will pay up," he said.
Hertfordshire Police have submitted a claim of £194,286 to the Home Office for the additional costs incurred preparing for restructuring.
The proposed force mergers were cancelled by the Home Office in July and police authorities and forces had until the 31 August to submit their claim.
Chairman of Hertfordshire Police Authority Ian Laidlaw-Dickson said: "We have calculated the additional costs which we and the constabulary had to pay for work on the amalgamation proposals.
"I have to stress the word 'additional' as not all the time that officers and our staff spent on amalgamation could be included in the claim to the Home Office.
"I am sad that so much time and money has been spent on this project but we will continue to work with colleagues to improve policing in Hertfordshire without the distraction of amalgamation."
Stephen Bett, chairman of the Norfolk Police Authority, said the force would be seeking about £125,000 in compensation.
He felt the "mergers should have gone ahead" and it had been a wasted opportunity.
Michael Williamson, chairman of Cambridgeshire Police Authority - which is seeking £240,000 from the Home Office, said it was a "great shame" money had to be spent on merger plans.
"Our budget is very tight and it is essential that we are paid for these costs in full," he said.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: "We are in contact with all police forces to make it clear that we are prepared to make a contribution to the additional costs which they may have incurred in preparing for police force mergers.
"We are now in discussion with police forces and police authorities to consider what might be the best way to bring about improvements in protective services."