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Monday, March 2, 1998 Published at 11:09 GMT



Sci/Tech

Footprints help to track down criminals
image: [ Detectives are hoping the new footwear database will help track down more criminals ]
Detectives are hoping the new footwear database will help track down more criminals

West Midlands Police are helping to pioneer a new scientific technique which identifies criminals by the shoes they wear.


[ image: Criminals' footprints are recorded to be used in evidence]
Criminals' footprints are recorded to be used in evidence
Officers arriving at a burgled house or crime scene not only record fingerprints but the prints left by shoes and trainers.

Details of the footwear are then entered on a computer database, allowing detectives to trace possible culprits and to find out if crimes are linked.

Detective Superintendent Vernon Jones of West Midlands police said: "Everyone wears a shoe down in a specific area as they walk which makes it unique to them as an individual.


[ image: Det Supt Vernon Jones says criminals should watch out]
Det Supt Vernon Jones says criminals should watch out
"It is just as identifiable to anyone who leaves a fingerprint behind."

The technique is known as SciCa and officers at the Forensic Science service believe it will be a powerful tool in court.

Keith Barnett of the Forensic Service said: "Footwear is a very vital part of the evidence chain. Every time you take a step a footprint is left behind.

"If scenes of crimes officers are able to recover those footwear impressions, now we have a tool which will allow us to do comparisons and actually find good evidence to take to court."


[ image: Keith Barnett of the Forensic Service says the database is a useful tool]
Keith Barnett of the Forensic Service says the database is a useful tool
Designer training shoes appear to be one of the most popular fashion accessories for the young criminal.

In future, the distinctive marks on the soles could costs criminals their liberty.

While British police pioneer the shoe print database, the Dutch are researching ways of identifying people by the distinctive smell associated with trainers.








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