Forensic Photography: A Footwear mark is found in soil

Topics: Photography, Crime scene, Forensic photography Pages: 10 (3255 words) Published: February 21, 2014
A footwear mark is found in soil
Describe the recommended photographic procedure for such evidence recovery providing reasons why the given procedure is ' best practice'

“There is no branch of detective science that is so important and so much neglected as the art of tracing footsteps.” Sherlock Holmes (Doyle, 1887)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s introduction of the forensic study of footwear marks through his detective character Sherlock Holmes; is a fitting description of this area of investigation even in the modern world of forensic science. It is an item of evidence that will appear in 90% of all crime scenes (James & Nordby, 2009). With the first criminal conviction in the UK using footwear mark evidence was in the case of Robinson.R v [1996] EWCA Crim 19 (1st April 1996) (British and Irish legal Information Institute, 1996) Yet has until recently not been regarded a vital piece of evidence.  Footwear marks are often the most abundant form of evidence at a crime scene (Kiely, 2006) and in some cases can be as unique and specific as a fingerprint. SOCO/CSI/Forensic Scientist/FI will seek to identify the make and model of the shoe that made the mark or impression (Keppel, Brown, & Welch, 2006).

Photography has many applications within forensic science. It is used in the first instance to photograph the crime scene. This is then furthered with photographs taken of individual items of evidence, from fingerprints and bloodstains, to wounds on a victim’s body both at the scene. Then should it be required later during a post-mortem examination. Forensic photography is a skilled job, as all photographs taken need to be of a high quality taking into account, depth of field, lighting, colour and accuracy in-order to be used in the criminal justice process.

A crime scene is always photographed as soon as possible, so there is a permanent record of the location in its original condition. This will probably occur after the preliminary survey (White, 2005) when ideally nothing within the scene has been touched or moved (Redsicker, 2001). Sometimes this is not possible due to the earnest being on to getting emergency support to a victim or victims within a crime scene, which can lead to pieces of the scene being, moved (White, 2005). Any moved items will be photographed in their new position and their movement and reason recorded in the initial survey. It is not possible to specify the number of photographs that will be taken per scene, as much depends on the type and nature of the scene (Redsicker, 2001). As a general rule, the SOCO/CSI/Forensic photographer will err on the side of caution as it “is far better to take too many then, missing a vital piece of evidence” (Lyle, 2004).

Three (3) types of photographs are taken, overall, mid-range, and close-up photographs (Weiss, 2009). Primarily photographs are taken of the exterior and interior of the crime scene. Exterior photographs will show buildings and other major structures, roads and or paths to and from the scene, streets signs, and address numbers. If possible, aerial photographs will be taken because these give the broadest possible view of a crime scene in relation to its surroundings (Robinson, 2007). Interior photographs are taken using the corners of the room as a guide. Overlapping views are taken, to ensure everything is covered. It is also important to take photographs of the common approach path.

Mid-range photographs will show items of evidence and any points of interest in the immediate surroundings, such as victims, corpses, weapons or signs of drug misuse (Miller, 2006). Close-ups will focus on individual items of evidence, including weapons, footprints and fingerprints (Siljander & Fredrickson, 1997).

A scale such as a ruler, will give a guide to the size of the evidence (Weiss, 2009). This is important because the photographs will later be enlarged to the appropriate size for comparison work with footwear marks, as an example. Specific...

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