Forensic Science Consultants

Call Head Office 01782 394929
London Office 0207 118 9001
Freephone 0800 999 7 666

About Us

Managing Director: Alan Baker BSc CChem MRSC MEWI

Alan Baker became a Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry (MRSC) and a Chartered Chemist (CChem) in 1994. In addition, he is also on the UK Register of Expert Witnesses, a member of The Expert Witness Institute, is a Sweet and Maxwell checked witness and an associate member of the Forensic Science Society.

When the opportunity arose in 2004 to buy Bericon, one of the UK’s oldest forensic science consultancies, Alan grabbed the chance with both hands.  Since then, he has quadrupled the company’s annual caseload and has been invited to appear on Sky News, CNN, ITN, BBC Radio, Talk radio and Legal TV when they’ve sought an expert opinion on high-profile cases that have hinged on forensic examination, DNA testing, handwriting comparison and other such areas of scientific investigation – areas that he and Bericon Forensics have become authorities on over the last 25 years.  Alan has also appeared as the resident forensic expert in a series for Sky TV’s The Crime Channel.

Graduating  in 1988 with a First Class Honours degree in Applied Chemistry, Alan later took up employment with a firm of scientific consultants in Derby, where he began working as a forensic scientist in 1990.

He subsequently helped that business to develop into one of the leading independent forensic laboratories in the UK and was promoted to Divisional Manager in 1997, whereupon he took responsibility for all forensic and drugs testing work at the company.

His role as a forensic scientist has incorporated both prosecution and defence investigations for police forces and solicitor practices across the UK, giving evidence in numerous magistrates’ courts and the Crown Court, utilising his formal Bond Solon Courtroom Skills qualifications and training, combined with the invaluable experience gained from over 3,500 forensic investigations.

In addition to Mr Baker’s areas of specialisation, other expert support is provided by a series of consultants based across the UK and who in combination offer over 200 years of forensic experience.

The Forensic Process

The provision of forensic science services available to English and Welsh Police Forces is a completely different marketplace to that of 10 years ago. Traditionally, the sole provider of such services was the Home Office Forensic Science Service, who operated at regional sites across the country, each of which tending to provide a comprehensive range of forensic services.

Competiton

The advent of competition in the 1990′s meant that smaller forensic organisations began to make inroads into the marketplace, particularly in the supply of more specialised areas of work, such as drugs testing (everything from drug equipment analysis to cannabis yield evaluation) and document examination (such as handwriting analysis and suspected passport alterations). Now, as with every other type of market, there is a world of choice and vendors on offer, which can often seem more of a burden than a bonus! That’s why we’ve set our website out as clearly as we can, so you can quickly see our areas of specialism from our homepage.

The changing face of forensics

The picture in 2014 continues to change, with police forces sourcing their forensic services from a number of specialist laboratories. Alongside this, individual forces have become increasingly aware of (and lead by) budgetary restrictions. The days when an investigating officer asked for all samples and items to be analysed as part of an investigation are long since gone. Indeed, today’s UK based forensic scientist can usually be asked to focus on very specific, isolated areas of interest, and it is often down to defending solicitors to pick up the metaphorical scientific pieces in a case.

That’s where Bericon comes to the fore. In the more routine type of criminal case, there is often little forensic evidence of note, but as prosecution investigations become more and more specific and science continues to advance at an increasingly rapid pace, there has never been a greater need for scrutiny of cases, as public awareness and expectation of the forensic process continues to rise in the information age.

Our place in the legal landscape

Here at Bericon, we are very mindful of the current pressures of the British legal system, whether it be courts setting early trial dates or the stresses brought about by late submission of evidence. We aim to work closely with our solicitor clients to minimise delay and to complete a quote and free initial review within 24 hours.  We also aim to get our reports emailed or faxed to you within days, not weeks. Bericon always operates on the basis of “how quick do you need it?”, and we’ve found this honest and pragmatic approach to our relationship with our clients keeps things running very smoothly, in what can be a very high-pressure area of work for all concerned.

We strongly believe this is why we continue to grow as a business: we consider it one our key responsibilities to be a voice at the end of the phone – whatever the time.

At Bericon we believe that the assessment of the whole process of forensic investigation has never been more important and we seek to review:

  • The collection of evidence and ask: “Were the right samples taken?”
  • The continuity of items and ask: “Were the samples correctly packaged?”
  • The analysis and examination of materials and ask: “Why were only certain items submitted to the laboratory?”
  • The conclusions of any statement or report and ask: “Just how important and relevant are they?”

Forensic scientists often only become involved in the investigation of a crime some time after it has occurred and probably after the direction of the case has been decided by supervising police officers. Whilst, as a firm of expert scientists, Bericon are committed to the assessment of forensic evidence from the moment that it is collected, the scientist working on behalf of the Crown is often only given limited information about the incident and frequently directed to review one particular aspect of a case. This can cause subsequent problems in the interpretation of any scientific evidence

It is often said that the sample received at the lab is only as good/ reliable as the way in which it’s been taken or packaged and never more is this the case in the era of DNA trace detection and drug analysis. Indeed, the continuity and contamination of items are issues that will always haunt the forensic community and typically offer-up the most significant areas of assessment for Bericon and our legal clients.

As the provision of forensic science evolves, so does the mindful assessment of costs by police forces. Here at Bericon, we believe that a rising number of investigations are being significantly affected by a) the assessment of costs and b) the likelihood that a particular investigation will yield a specific piece of evidence.

Forensic science always catches the imagination of the public and many see it as the golden ticket to a successful prosecution. That can often be the case but the changing, cost-driven nature of police investigation of crime means that it have never been more relevant to check how and why evidence has been accumulated and perhaps most importantly how that evidence is then perceived in a Court of Law.

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What our clients say

Due to Dr Short preparing a report on DNA at short notice our client was found not guilty of a serious sexual offence
David Hay, Abraham Solicitors