A marked, but by no means universal, trend in Europe over the last decade or so has been the centralisation or amalgamation of regional police organisations into larger or single units. Scotland is a case in point, its eight regional services becoming one Police Scotland in April 2013. Although the reform process was relatively consensual the new organisation has been the subject of numerous controversies, some of which reflect an actual or perceived loss of the local in Scottish policing. Drawing on a qualitative study of the emerging local governance arrangements we explore the negotiated character of large scale organisational reform, demonstrating that it is best understood as a process not an event. We also argue that appeals to localism are not mere expressions of sentiment and resistance to change. They reflect the particular historical development of policing and public service delivery in Scotland at the level of municipal government, but also strong convictions that policing should be subject to democratic deliberation and should recognise and be responsive to those subject to it, what we argue here are necessary functions of police governance in general.