A joint statement from the two organisations published on their websites yesterday said that trustees from both charities believed a merger would improve the quality of services that the organisations offered to service users and communities.
Both charities work to reduce crime and its impact on the community through a range of measures, including mentoring and education services and addressing the causes of crime, such as drug and alcohol abuse.
Sova has four main offices in London, Sheffield, Birmingham and Cardiff. It has 150 employees and had a turnover of £7.7m in 2010/11, according to figures on the Charity Commission website. It also has more than 1,000 volunteers on its books.
The CRI has more than 2,000 paid staff and had an income of £69m in 2010/11.
A Sova spokeswoman said the two charities had started due-diligence procedures two weeks ago. But she said it was too early to comment on issues such as the structure of any new charity and staffing arrangements.
Randeep Kaur Kular, chair of Sova, said in the statement: "For more than 35 years Sova has been working at the heart of communities in England and Wales to help people steer clear of crime and make better choices. Our goal is to increase the effect we have on preventing and reducing crime by strengthening our offer and broadening our reach.
"Joining forces will help both organisations to maximise opportunities to further our work in building stronger, safer communities. With this in mind our two organisations are entering into negotiations."David Royce, chief executive of the CRI, said: "CRI and Sova very much share a vision, a values base and an aspiration to help those in need to grasp the opportunity to lead independent and crime-free lives. Sova’s extremely strong volunteering heritage perfectly complements CRI’s commitment to peer-led support. This all creates a solid foundation on which to base these discussions."