Chemistry and Fingerprints:

Footwear Comparison

Footwear Comparison

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:

  • A full scene service, which includes the recovery and mapping of footwear and other marks using standard and specialist enhancement and recovery techniques. The footwear mark examination can be carried out in association with other evidence types such as blood search and blood pattern analysis using our own experts.
  • Footwear mark comparison and intelligence.
  • Forensic podiatry (“foot in shoe analysis”).
  • Expert photographic services e.g. for marks on
  • Forensic review. Our experienced experts will review the work carried out by the prosecution and re-assess the findings as necessary.
  • We can assist in the development of in-house footwear screening programmes and can provide training, mentoring and assessment, as well as ongoing support, for trainees who wish to progress to expert status. We also offer full Quality consultancy services and can use our considerable experience in assisting laboratories in gaining

Footwear Comparison Experts

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