Jobs could be at risk in the Devon & Cornwall Police forensics service under a major shake-up.
Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer has revealed the force’s science support service is undergoing modernisation to take into account new digital processes.
But concerns have been raised about the impact of changes on the service in Plymouth, which has already seen the effect of cutbacks with fewer crimes being investigated by forensics staff.
Under the restructuring plan, fingerprint and chemical laboratories would be based with Avon & Somerset Police and Devon & Cornwall would host a digital centre. The force would also have a series of forensic hubs where staff would collect material from crime scenes for analysis.
The plan follows a decision in March to drop a plan to transfer employment of the Devon & Cornwall team to Dorset Police.
Mr Sawyer told members of the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel that the changes could take between six months and a year, adding he hoped any staff who might lose their job could be retrained and redeployed, but redundancies could not be ruled out.
Discussions would be taking place with staff and the GMB union.
He said there were concerns about a backlog in forensics work which was having an impact on the progress of sexual offence cases.
Mr Sawyer said: “Digital fingerprints can be looked at as easily from Scotland as Saltash. We have to work in the real world.”
The chief constable was responding to a question about the changes from Plymouth Labour councillor Sally Haydon, who commented: “We don’t want to lose any of our highly skilled staff from here.”