Delivering local policing at a larger scale has been considered on several occasions in recent years. The aim is not solely to obtain efficiencies of scale and resilience. The objective is also to improve the quality of policing, increase efficiency, improve decision making and simplify team and leadership structures. Greater consistency of operating practice, within a reduced number of operational commands, provides the added benefit of a solid foundation for future change.

The Pathfinders were intended to test ideas that have been considered and been in development for a number of years – providing learning as to what works and what does not to support a wider roll-out.

Two sites were selected to provide an insight into how the proposals operated in different policing environments in London. These sites were "Central North" (CN) comprising the boroughs of Camden and Islington; and "East Area" (EA) made up of Barking & Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge. Preparation for the pathfinder started in October 2016 and a phased implementation began in January 2017. The Pathfinders and associated technology changes were fully in place by April 2017.

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