In this page Zeno Geradts tries to explain some more on the shoeprint comparisons, and the problems which might be involved with this kind of comparison. For more information you can send email to .


Shoeprints, sometimes inaccurately reffered to as "footprint" are found at scenes of crimes with great regularity. For this reason they have long been studied by police and crime laboratory personnel. There is no doubt that a comparison of a shoe trace found at the scene of crime obtained from a defendant can be a valuable ink associating the defendant with a crime. The question that is more difficult to answer is whether a particular shoe trace can be positively identified as having been made by a specifific item of footwear. Even though there is no recognized "science" of footwear comparisons, it has been widely accepted by law enforcement as well as by the courts that this kind of identifications can be made when adequate evidence is available. The science of footwear investigations is evolving now, since more research groups are working on shoeprints.

Variety of shoeprints

Shoe prints may be found as either prints or impressions. Prints are two-dimensional, made by depositing or removing material from a hard surface. Impressions are three-dimensional and made in a pliable material. Both class and individual characteristics are present in each of the two types of trace evidence and are identifiable. A shoeprint is unique due to its many variables : length of wear, random marks and scratches and the design on a paticular sole. For prints lifting with foil and photography is the major technique, and is often combined with casting for impressions.



In Europe many specialists on footwear identification exist. The examiniation and comparison of impressions of footwear seens to be done mostly by toolmark and fingerprint examiners.

United States

Nowadays more specialists in footwear identifications exist. The examination and comparison of impressions seems to be mostly done by identification technicians, though in recent years, the physical anthropologist have paid much attention to this subject. At times, fingerprint experts, firearms and toolmark examiners, document examiners and even serologists are seen to present evidence in court on the identification of shoeprints.


Starting in the early seventies forensic scientists and anthropologist started examining shoe-footprint-comparisons.

There are different comparisons :

There is some more research needed for the value of this kind of evidence. Several groups are making efforts in databases of bare feet.