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We expressed concern last year at whether or not Hampshire police would be properly reimbursed for the part they played in quelling riots in London. So we are pleased to record today that almost £1.2m has been returned to the force to offset its loss.

Albeit that most rather than all of the cost has been recouped, it is a welcome conclusion to the matter.

It seems that the money will effectively push to more than £10m the savings Hampshire Constabulary anticipates this financial year as it reacts to government spending cuts.

The issue though does raise again the debate on how we police Britain.

More and more, forces are looking to co-operate in particular fields and to share resources and equipment in order to cut costs.

This is all well and good, provided of course that the particular service is not weakened.

But such arrangements perhaps push us closer to the point at which the notion of a national police force becomes a clearer possibility.

That, we feel, would be an entirely different proposition to individual constabularies finding ways of working together and of continuing the existing practice of lending support to each other at times of crisis (and settling the bill afterwards).

The great benefit of our present tried and tested system is that it keeps the vital element of local accountability.

Of course, central government can affect what a chief constable does, but he is directly answerable to his local police authority – and soon by an elected police commissioner.

Wherever possible, we believe that both power and accountability should be centred locally rather than in Westminster.

National civil servants though could sort out a more efficient pay-back system between forces for emergencies such as last summer’s riots, when the Met needed all the help it could get.

Hampshire Police were glad to assist, but it seems wrong that local taxpayers have had to wait so long for reimbursement.