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A study of the variability in footwear impression comparison conclusions

Hammer, Lesley and Duffy, Kate and Fraser, Jim and Nic Daeid, Niamh (2012) A study of the variability in footwear impression comparison conclusions. Journal of Forensic Identification. ISSN 0895-173X (In Press)

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Abstract

The 2009 National Academy of Science report ‘Strengthening forensic science in the United States: a path forward’ (NAS report) cited a 1994 European study of footwear examiner conclusions and used it to illustrate that there were ‘considerable differences’ found between conclusions of footwear examiners. The basic methodology of that study was repeated in 2009 in North America. Six footwear case studies were created and sent to participating certified footwear examiners. The examiners were asked to independently assess each case based on features that were clearly marked on each impression, and they were directed to use a specific scale of conclusions to report their findings. The results of this study, in contrast to the 1994 study, were that when experienced examiners used the same conclusion scale and compared the same features, there was little variability within their stated findings.