Criminal Defense

Forensic Science: The Police Shoe Sole Database “SoleMate”

February 05, 2024 by Seppi Esfandi in Criminal Defense  Forensic Science  
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Introduction to Forensic Shoe Sole Databases

Forensic shoe sole databases are powerful tools that aid forensic investigators in the identification and analysis of shoe prints found at crime scenes. These databases contain extensive information about various types of footwear, including sports shoes, work boots, and casual footwear. By comparing the characteristics of a shoe print with the data in the database, investigators can identify the make and model of the shoe, potentially linking it to a suspect.

One such advanced forensic shoe sole database is SoleMate FPX. Developed by Foster + Freeman, SoleMate FPX combines a comprehensive footwear evidence management tool with an extensive reference database. This cutting-edge system allows investigators to rapidly identify shoe prints and streamline the investigative process.

The Significance of Shoe Prints in Forensic Investigations

Shoe prints found at crime scenes can provide valuable insights and evidence in forensic investigations. Like fingerprints, shoe prints are unique to individuals and can help establish a link between a suspect and a crime scene. By analyzing shoe prints, investigators can determine the size, pattern, and wear characteristics of the shoe, which can be crucial in identifying suspects or excluding innocent individuals from the investigation.

Shoe prints can also provide information about the movements and actions of individuals at the crime scene. They can reveal the direction of travel, the presence of multiple individuals, and even the type of activities that took place. By carefully analyzing shoe prints, forensic investigators can reconstruct the sequence of events and gain a deeper understanding of the crime.

An Overview of SoleMate FPX: The Shoe Sole Searcher Database

SoleMate FPX is a state-of-the-art footwear mark intelligence tool designed for the rapid identification and management of shoe prints as evidence. Developed by Foster + Freeman, SoleMate FPX builds upon the success of its predecessor, the SICAR software, which has been widely used by police departments and forensic footwear specialists worldwide.

The key feature of SoleMate FPX is its dynamic search tool, which allows investigators to describe the visual characteristics of a shoe print using shapes, patterns, text, and logos. This intuitive search interface enables users to create an on-screen representation of the questioned print and search the extensive FPX reference database for matching footwear records. With over 42,000 items of footwear, including sample shoe prints, the SoleMate database provides investigators with a wealth of information to aid in their analysis.

How SoleMate FPX Works: A Closer Look at its Features

SoleMate FPX offers a range of features that make it a comprehensive and efficient tool for footwear mark identification. Let’s explore some of its key features:

Easy Installation and Operation

SoleMate FPX is designed to be user-friendly, with a straightforward installation process and an intuitive interface. Investigators can quickly familiarize themselves with the system and start using its powerful features without extensive training or technical expertise.

Dynamic Search Tool for Rapid Results

The dynamic search tool in SoleMate FPX allows investigators to describe the visual characteristics of a shoe print using various elements such as shapes, patterns, text, and logos. By selecting these features, users can create an on-screen representation of the questioned print and search the database for matching footwear records. This dynamic search tool ensures rapid results, enabling investigators to save valuable time during the analysis process.

Database Management and Collaboration

SoleMate FPX allows the creation and management of databases across a network of installations. This feature promotes collaboration among investigative teams, enabling regional and cross-border collaborations. Investigators can share and access databases, enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of their investigations.

The SoleMate Database: A Treasure Trove of Footwear Information

The SoleMate database is a comprehensive collection of footwear information, including details of more than 42,000 items of footwear, including sample shoe prints. It provides investigators with a vast array of information about the latest sports shoes, work boots, and casual footwear from major brands and beyond. It is constantly updated.

Advantages of Using SoleMate FPX in Forensic Investigations

The use of SoleMate FPX in forensic investigations offers several advantages for investigators and forensic footwear specialists. Let’s explore some of these advantages:

Rapid Identification of Shoe Prints

SoleMate FPX’s dynamic search tool allows investigators to rapidly identify shoe prints by describing the visual characteristics of the print. This saves valuable time during the analysis process, enabling investigators to focus on other aspects of the case.

Extensive Reference Database

The SoleMate database contains a wealth of information about various types of footwear, including sports shoes, work boots, and casual footwear. With over 42,000 items of footwear, investigators have access to a comprehensive reference database that can aid in the identification and analysis of shoe prints.

Collaboration and Information Sharing

SoleMate FPX allows investigators to share and collaborate on databases across a network of installations. This feature promotes collaboration among investigative teams, enhancing the overall effectiveness of forensic investigations. Regional and cross-border collaborations can be facilitated, leading to more successful outcomes.

Free Upgrade for SoleMate Subscribers

Existing users of the SICAR software with an active SoleMate subscription can enjoy a free upgrade to SoleMate FPX. This ensures that users can benefit from the advanced features and improvements offered by the new system without any additional cost.

Other Forensic Databases and Tools

While SoleMate FPX is a leading forensic shoe sole database, there are other tools and databases available for forensic investigators. These include:

Integrated Ballistic Identification System (IBIS)

The Integrated Ballistic Identification System, maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, is a forensic database that contains bullet and cartridge casings retrieved from crime scenes and test-fires of guns. While not specifically focused on shoe prints, IBIS can be a valuable tool in forensic investigations.

Paint Data Query (PDQ)

Maintained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, PDQ is a database that contains the chemical compositions of paint from various car manufacturers. While primarily focused on automotive paint, PDQ can also be used to analyze paint found on footwear.

National Automotive Paint File

The National Automotive Paint File, maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, contains samples of automotive paint from manufacturers. This database can be used to compare paint chips from cars with samples in the database, aiding in the identification of vehicles involved in crimes.

Glass Evidence Reference Database

The Glass Evidence Reference Database contains samples of glass from manufacturers, distributors, and vehicle junkyards. While it does not determine the source of an unknown piece of glass, it can assess the relative frequency of two glass samples having the same elemental profile.

These databases and tools, along with SoleMate FPX, provide forensic investigators with a range of resources to aid in the analysis and identification of shoe prints and other forensic evidence.

The Role of Research and Development in Forensic Shoe Sole Databases

Research and development (R&D) play a crucial role in advancing forensic shoe sole databases and tools. Ongoing R&D efforts aim to improve the accuracy, efficiency, and effectiveness of these databases, enabling investigators to analyze shoe prints with greater precision and speed.

Organizations such as the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) prioritize research in the field of forensic shoe sole analysis. These organizations identify research needs, set research priorities, and allocate funding to support innovative projects and studies.

Research in forensic shoe sole analysis focuses on various aspects, including:

Footwear Mark Recognition Algorithms

Researchers are developing advanced algorithms to enhance the recognition and matching capabilities of forensic shoe sole databases. These algorithms use machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques to analyze and compare shoe prints, improving the accuracy of identification.

Database Expansion and Updates

Efforts are underway to expand existing databases, including the SoleMate database, by adding more footwear samples and increasing the diversity of brands and styles. Regular updates ensure that investigators have access to the latest footwear information, keeping pace with evolving trends in the industry.

Standardization of Analysis Methods

Research aims to establish standardized methods for analyzing and comparing shoe prints, ensuring consistency and reliability across forensic investigations. Standardization allows for better collaboration, data sharing, and the development of benchmarking tools for quality assurance.

Validation and Admissibility Studies

Research assesses the validity and admissibility of shoe sole evidence in court to ensure that it meets the necessary legal standards. Studies examine the reliability and accuracy of forensic shoe sole analysis techniques, providing a scientific basis for the use of such evidence in legal proceedings.

By investing in research and development, forensic science continues to evolve, improving the accuracy and effectiveness of shoe sole databases and tools used in criminal investigations.

Ensuring Admissibility of Shoe Sole Evidence in Court

The admissibility of shoe sole evidence in court depends on meeting certain legal standards. To ensure the admissibility of such evidence, forensic investigators must adhere to established guidelines and methodologies. These guidelines aim to ensure the reliability, accuracy, and scientific validity of shoe sole analysis techniques.

Organizations such as OSAC and the Scientific Working Group on Shoeprint and Tire Tread Evidence (SWGTREAD) provide guidance and standards for forensic shoe sole analysis. These organizations promote collaboration among forensic experts, develop best practices, and establish proficiency testing programs to ensure the competency of forensic shoe sole analysts.

To ensure the admissibility of shoe sole evidence, investigators must:

Use Validated Methods

Investigators should use validated analysis methods that have been scientifically tested and accepted within the forensic science community. This includes following established protocols, using appropriate equipment, and documenting the analysis process thoroughly.

Maintain Chain of Custody

The chain of custody for shoe sole evidence must be carefully maintained to ensure its integrity and reliability. Proper documentation of the collection, handling, storage, and transportation of the evidence is essential to establish its authenticity and admissibility in court.

Establish Expertise and Qualifications

Forensic shoe sole analysts should possess the necessary expertise, training, and experience to conduct accurate and reliable analyses. They should be well-versed in the scientific principles and techniques of footwear analysis and maintain proficiency through ongoing training and education.

Document and Present Findings Clearly

Investigators must document their findings and analysis procedures in a clear and comprehensive manner. This includes providing detailed reports, photographs, and other supporting documentation that can be easily understood by the court and other stakeholders.

By adhering to these guidelines and standards, forensic investigators can ensure that shoe sole evidence is admissible in court and withstands scrutiny during legal proceedings.


By accessing the SoleMate database, investigators can compare the characteristics of a shoe print found at a crime scene with the information stored in the database. This comparison can help identify the make and model of the shoe, providing valuable leads in criminal investigations. The database is regularly updated with new footwear releases, ensuring that investigators have access to the latest information in their analysis.

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