The five East Midlands police forces are considering working more closely together in a move to save money.
Derbyshire Police's Peter Goodman said the goal was "collaboration and not merger" and may involve areas such as human resources.
He said an East Midlands merger was discussed a few years ago but soon disappeared because it was both "impractical and unpopular".
Mr Goodman added the forces hope the move would reduce costs.
Mr Goodman, who is the deputy chief constable for the East Midlands Police Collaboration Team, said discussions were taking place.
He said the merger of forces was "not on the agenda".
"It is about working together to be more efficient and effective and to reduce some of the costs around some of the back office and specialist services that we all have to provide," he said.
"The cap badge of the person providing neighbourhood policing and
the person who responds to an emergency will be a local Lincolnshire officer who knows and understands Lincolnshire itself."
The forces involved in the talks are Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Derbyshire.
Police forces in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire have already said they may combine their firearms units.