Guide for the Collection of Footwear and Tire Impressions in the Laboratory


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1. Scope

    1.1  This Guide provides procedures for the collection of footwear and tire impressions in the laboratory.

    1.2  The particular procedures and methods employed in a given case will depend on the nature and quality of the evidence.

    1.3  This Guide may not cover all aspects of unusual or uncommon conditions. 1.4  This Guide does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this Guide to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

    1.5  This Guide is not intended as a substitute for training in the recovery of forensic footwear and tire track evidence. Completion of a training program and experience in these skills are essential to understanding and applying the principles outlined in this Guide.


2. Terminology


3. Significance and Use

    3.1  The procedures outlined here are grounded in the generally accepted body of knowledge and experience for the collection of footwear and tire impression evidence. By following these procedures, both patent and latent impressions can be collected.

    3.2  Footwear and tire tread impressions are collected in the laboratory for examination purposes.

4. Interferences

    4.1  Footwear and tire evidence may have inherent limitations that can interfere with the procedures in this Guide. Limitations, when known, should be noted and recorded.

    4.2  Limitations can be due to substrate features and the quality of original and recovered impressions.

5. Equipment and Requirements

    5.1  Electrostatic lifting device

    5.2  Lifting materials

    5.3  Materials for physical and chemical enhancement

    5.4  Photographic equipment

    5.5  Digital imaging equipment and software

6. Procedures

    The following procedures may be used, as appropriate, depending on the composition of the impression evidence and the substrate material. The order of the following collection methods may vary.

    6.1  Document and/or photograph (as set forth in the Guide for the Forensic Documentation and Photography of Footwear and Tire Impressions at the Crime Scene) impressions prior to and after any procedure.

    6.2  Collect two-dimensional impressions.

      6.2.1  Collect dry origin impressions using the electrostatic lifting device, gelatin, or adhesive lifters.

      Note: It is recommended that the electrostatic lifting device be used first for dry origin impressions.

      6.2.2  Collect wet origin impressions using lifting techniques and/or chemical/physical enhancement techniques as appropriate.

    6.3  Collect test impressions and/or photographs of footwear and tires for examination and elimination purposes.


7. Report

    7.1  Procedures utilized and impressions collected should be documented and may also appear in a report.

8. Bibliography

    Bodziak, W. J. Footwear Impression Evidence, 2nd ed.; CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL, 2000.

    Cassidy, M. J. Footwear Identification; Public Relations Branch of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police: 1980. (Reprinted by Lightning Powder Company, Inc. 1995.)

    IAI Recommended Course of Study for Footwear & Tire Track Examiners; International Assoc. Identification: Mendota Htgs., MN, 1995.

    Nause, L. Forensic Tire Impression Identification Canadian Police Research Centre: Ottawa, ON, Canada, 2001.


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