Force wins funding for shoe print pilot

An innovative machine that captures shoe print patterns and compares them against footwear marks found at crime scenes is being used in custody suites in London as part of a Metropolitan Police project.

The scanner is the first of its kind in Europe, and it is hoped the technology will eventually reduce the cost per scan to the force to just 1p.

Already the technology has cut the time taken to develop footprints from five days to just two minutes – and it has reportedly helped convict 71 burglars in only eight months.

A dedicated Met unit is currently working in collaboration with the National Footwear Strategic Group, which is in charge of a reference library that uses a single common coding system for identifying different types and models of footwear and associated “footprint templates”.

The Met will also be working with police colleagues across the country to develop a national capability should other forces decide to adopt a similar approach.

The force was awarded £300,000 from the Home Office’s police innovation fund to carry out the scheme, which will also enable forensics teams to access the images of footwear remotely.

Commander Simon Letchford said: “An initial pilot at Colindale Police Station showed that not only could we reduce the time and cost of taking individual shoe prints from offenders, but we could also detect more crimes.

“We will have the capability to scan and quickly analyse the shoes of offenders arrested by the police against existing marks from crime scenes.

“Burglary is already at its lowest level for 40 years this new tool will only further boost police’s crime fighting ability and help keep communities even safer.”

Footwear intelligence and increasingly sophisticated analysis of shoe marks has been a growth area in recent years, with several forces setting up new bureaus dedicated to this area of investigations and much new technology being developed.

Image: Zalman992/Creative Commons

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