Footwear marks (or impressions) have the distinct potential to provide a conclusive association between the undersole of a particular shoe and a suspected footwear undersole mark recovered from a crime scene.

Examples of crime scenes where footwear mark evidence might be obtained include burglary & robbery scenes where footwear marks might be left on surfaces such as floors, tables, worktops etc, and also in murder / assault cases where footwear marks might be present on the victim, possibly in the form of bruising as a result of the assailant stamping on the victim, or footwear marks in blood in the vicinity of the scene.

Footwear marks are found on many different surfaces (such as doors, windowsills, floors, skin, clothing and soil) and may be photographed, lifted (onto clear adhesive sheets or gels) or cast to facilitate comparison with a pair of shoes. 

If the mark is on a readily movable item such as a piece of paper, the item itself might be removed from the scene.  In addition, footwear marks might be on the clothing / body of an individual who has been the victim of a repeated kicking / stamping assault, in which case the marks, which could be in the form of bruising or blood might be photographed using lighting techniques to enhance its quality.

When a comparison is made between a suspect’s shoe and a crime scene mark, features of the undersole such as pattern, pattern configuration, size, degree of wear, and damage features are all assessed. In addition, the crime scene mark might show evidence of slight movement / slippage when the mark was made, or it might have been made when the undersole was wet, both of which can impose limits on the extent of the comparison. This evaluation will include examination of laboratory databases and footwear collections to take into account the frequency of the pattern and size, and the specific wear patterns of the shoe type under consideration.