Burglars can’t fly, so somewhere in a crime scene there may well be a footprint. These footprints may be impossible for you to see but a skilled footwear examiner will be able to find and locate any potential footwear evidence using various techniques and skills.
Footwear can be identified using its pattern type, the size of a shoe and how much the shoe has been worn. There might also be unique features present when damage occurs to the sole of the shoe. These factors all contribute towards matching an item of footwear to a crime scene mark.
Footwear impressions are taken from individuals passing through custody that have been arrested and detained for certain key recordable offences. These impressions are specific to that individual at that time and can be used as record of the type, pattern and size of footwear worn at the time of arrest.
The National Footwear Reference Collection is a database containing information on footwear patterns from numerous manufacturers. This database is used to help identify crime scene marks that have been made by a specific footwear pattern. It currently contains over 30000 different footwear patterns.
To become a Forensic Footwear Expert, it is essential that you have a scientific qualification to A-level or equivalent. A degree in a science subject is useful, but not essential. Experience of working in a scientific environment or in a police force is also useful; even volunteering for a few hours a week would be good experience. It is important to have an aptitude for footwear examination: some people just cannot see footwear marks.