The Forensic Science Service (FSS) could cut up to 800 jobs in a move to make it more competitive.

The Home Office confirmed the company, which is owned by the government and analyses crime scene evidence for the police, has begun a consultation with its staff and unions on the implementation of a ‘wide-ranging transformation plan’ that is ‘vital’ to its long-term survival.

In a statement on the service, Alan Campbell, Home Office minister, said the FSS had ‘set out its intentions to move to a new business model, delivering the same integrated service, more quickly and efficiently, with a reduced but more targeted work force, and potentially working from a reduced estate.’ He said the full details remained subject to the conclusions of the consultation.

Kay Francis, FSS communications manager, said the loss of 800 from the current 1,900-strong workforce was the worst-case scenario and the outcome would depend on the degree to which it wins contracts over the coming months. She said the changes were not due to any foreseeable plans to sell the company. ‘We’re a limited company owned by the government and we have to tender for work with other private companies. We need to be competitive and respond to the needs of the police,’ said Francis.

A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘The forensic market is changing with increased competition, reduced business volumes and a higher-cost base. It is right that the FSS should put itself in a sustainable position for the future.’