Black British Business Awards: owner of Salford forensics business shortlisted for accolade

The entrepreneur, who came to the UK from Jamaica as a young child in the 1960s, spoke of his honour at being nominated for the awards recognising Black excellence in business and his work in forensics.

The co-founder and owner of a leading forensics firm has spoken of his honour and surprise after being shortlisted for an award recognising Black excellence in business.

Raymond Evans, who runs SRi Forensics in Salford after helping to found the firm in 2004, has been nominated for the Black British Business Awards in the Professional Services Senior Leader of the Year category.

Raymond, who arrived from the Caribbean island of Jamaica as a very young boy and who lives in the Chorlton area of Manchester, has helped police and legal firms crack major cases including the Morecambe Bay cockle-picking tragedy in which more than 20 people lost their lives.

He spoke about being nominated for the award as well as being seen as something of a trailblazer in an industry which he admits is not particularly diverse.

Raymond Evans, the co-founder and owner of SRI Forensics in Salford

Who is Raymond Evans and how did he set up his business?

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Raymond arrived in the UK from Jamaica in the mid-1960s along with his sister. His parents had emigrated across the Atlantic Ocean as some of the last of the Windrush generation to come to Britain and after a couple of years were able to bring their children over as well.

He and his family have lived around south Manchester for most of their lives, and he is now based in Chorlton.

Raymond originally trained as an illustrator and intended to make a career drawing for medical journals, forensic papers and medical textbooks.

He then spent some years working at a hospital in Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia, before returning to The University of Manchester where he gradually began to spend more of his time on the forensic side doing tasks like facial identification and reconstruction.

He and a business partner set up SRi Forensics in 2004, initially juggling his university role with working on the company part-time. Now, though, the concern is his full-time job and he is also the sole owner of the business, which has its offices in Salford.

What does SRI Forensics do?

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SRi Forensics is an identification expert service which has worked with both prosecution and defense teams and frequently gives evidence in court.

One of the first major cases the firm worked on was the investigation into the deaths of at least 21 cockle pickers on the lethal quicksands of Morecambe Bay, in which Lancashire Police rang up requesting assistance as it tried to piece together tens of thousands of different bits of evidence and information.

Raymond, his business partner and SRi Forensics worked with a multimillion-dollar security company to make an electronic evidence presentation application (EPE) available to the police. This was essentially a piece of software which could draw the right bits of evidence out of a huge internal database and allow them to be presented easily to the court with visual items appearing on the screens during the legal hearings.

The company has since developed large EPE applications for high profile criminal cases in the UK and the Hague. Raymond is currently developing new software applications to simplify how evidence gets presented within the criminal justice system.

What did Raymond say about being nominated for the Black British Business Awards?

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The Black British Business Awards have been running since 2014 and showcase exceptional talent within the Black entrepreneurial community, with previous winners including Steven Bartlett, the co-founder of Social Chain and the latest Dragon on Dragons Den, award-winning writer Dorothy Koomson and broadcasting icon Sir Trevor McDonald OBE.

Raymond and the other nominees will find out if they have won at a lavish ceremony in London on 29 September.

Raymond says some of the partner organisations SRI Forensics works with put him forward but admitted the news was not something he had expected.

A previous Black British Business Awards event. Photo: Steve Dunlop

He said: “It was something of a surprise. I hadn’t really heard of the awards before. People I work with put my name forward and I was delighted to be told I was being invited down to London for interview.

“It was very interesting and really powerful to see so many Black and ethnic minority people together for the interviews, it was quite encouraging, because to say the forensics field is not very well mixed is probably an understatement, although it has never been an issue for me.

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“A few weeks after the interview I was informed that I had been selected to be in the final, which was very nice, unexpected and very welcome.”

Would Raymond encourage other young Black people to go into forensics?

Raymond said he had not exactly considered himself as a role model or a pioneer for other Black people despite working in an industry without a great deal of diversity.

However, he said that helping people from Black and ethnic minority communities succeed was something very close to his heart and spoke of helping to set up an organisation for ethnic minority staff while he was at The University of Manchester.

He said: “I’m happy to be thought of as a a trailblazer, although there’s a bit of hyperbole around the phrase. It’s an honour. I’ve always been into promoting more diversity within institutions such as unis.

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“I’m doing the job I enjoy and any opportunities that come my way to promote forensics to the Black or ethnic minority community I will be happy to do that.

“I always encouraged my sons and their friends to continue studying. The area of science around forensics and STEM subjects is very wide.

“I understand the reluctance of some ethnic minorities to engage with the authorities and police, but engaging with them is the way change is going to be made.”