The policing minister, Nick Herbert, spent three days – an unusually large time for someone in government – at the Acpo conference. He told the Guardian that money could also be saved by buying items centrally, such as information technology systems.
Thus inadvertently showing up the problems of an administration that preaches localism and devolution of powers, but can't bring itself to accept the consequences of differential provision nor trust the local bodies to be truly accountable*. That's despite apparently persisting with the elected police commissioners plan, which one would have thought would include public responsibility for things like IT spend, otherwise what's the point? That's unless they're really intended to be effectively a lightning conductor for curtain-twitcher concerns about dangerous dogs and hoodies rather than a fully-fledged part of the process of police service administration. Can't see many high-calibre candidates coming forward if so.
Look for more central/local contradictions in future - to my mind it's *the* key test of the Tories in the Coalition over how much they're really willing to give up (the 'merge functions and win' meme is a long-term Tory obsession that runs completely counter to the idea that local provision can actually save money and be more efficient) and *the* key test of the Liberal Democrats over whether they raise a squeak when the localism on offer turns out to be window-dressing a centralist agenda. Which will doubtless bring us back to Michael Gove at some point.
* Unless they're Tory run, of course.