Footwear marks can be left at a crime scene in a number of ways. For example, they may be deposited by walking through areas of dust, soil or blood or as a result of kicking an object such as a door or stamping onto flesh or clothing. They are therefore relevant in many different investigations.
Depending upon the circumstances, it will often be necessary to consider other evidence types, including the transfer of glass, blood, hairs, soil and pollen as well as establishing whether an individual is the habitual wearer of a pair of shoes through podiatry (“foot in shoe analysis”) or DNA transfer.
The comparison of a shoe with a footwear mark left at the scene of a crime can lead to very powerful evidence. The comparison will consider the sole pattern, the size of the shoe, the way in which the shoe has worn and other characteristics, such as damage features. Where there are sufficient areas of similarity, especially with respect to randomly acquired damage features, it is possible to provide a “conclusive association”. It is also possible to conclusively exclude a shoe from having made a mark.
Where the association is not considered conclusive, the scientist will make an assessment of the strength of the association based on the wear characteristics, how frequently the sole pattern has been encountered and how common the size of the shoe is.
Where no item of footwear has been recovered for comparison, it is possible to provide intelligence on the make, model and approximate size of the footwear that has left a mark.
Forensic Access can assist in all aspects of footwear examination, training and consultancy. Our specialist laboratories are accredited to ISO17025 for footwear comparison, opinions and interpretation. Our services include: