The procedures used by crime scene officers have changed little in a hundred years; footwear evidence is still photographed and cast if deemed of importance. Footprints are the neglected ‘Cinderella’ evidence of the crime scene, especially as time pressures of CSI grows. We are addressing this by placing a simple tool for the 3D analysis of footwear evidence in the hands of every CSI officer. The research team at Bournemouth have fused computer and earth sciences to translate academic research on fossil footprints into freeware for use by police forces and forensic services across the UK.

Developed from a decade of research at Bournemouth University on fossil footprints, the freeware was created via a NERC Innovation Award and in conjunction with the Home Office and National Crime Agency. DigTrace provides a bespoke solution to the analysis of footwear evidence. By translating academic research and technical ‘know‐how’ into software the authors have the potential to place 3D imaging of footwear evidence in the hands of every police force in the UK. DigTrace caters for the complete workflow associated with the analysis of footprints/footwear evidence, from creating three‐dimensional models via photogrammetry, visualising those models and making a range of measurements, to computing mean tracks and/or comparing directly individual tracks or track populations. The software was launched in July 2016 and currently the project team are engaged in dissemination activity, gathering user feedback and enhancing the freeware in light of this. 

Dr. Marcin Budka
Professor Matthew Bennett
Bournemouth University, UK