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Inherent variation in multiple shoe-sole test impressions

NCJ Number
Forensic Science International Volume: 285 Dated: 2018 Pages: 189-203
Date Published
15 pages

This paper discusses inherent variation among impressions made from the same shoe.


This article focuses on the inherent within-source variability between controlled shoeprints made from the same shoe, as it appears on the RACs. To describe and analyze this variability, repeated test impressions were prepared, and datasets were created. Several RACs were marked on each test impression, using an expert assisting software tool (developed in the authors’ lab). The variance in repeated test impressions is demonstrated and possible sources are discussed. This variance should be considered when trying to establish the degree of matching between individual characteristics. Shoeprints left at crime scenes are seldom perfect. Many prints are distorted or contaminated by various materials. Noisy background often contributes to vagueness on the shoeprints as well. Test impressions made from the suspect’s shoes in the laboratory are considered a genuine replication of the shoe-sole. This naïve attitude is far from being correct. Consecutive test impressions made in the laboratory under strict similar conditions revealed differences among the exemplars of the same sole. Some of them are minor, but some are major, and can mislead the less experienced practitioners during the comparison process. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2018