Footprint Database used catch criminals!

by Stephen O
What comes to mind when you think of databases? You would normally think about a collection of your personal information that you may or may not have given out freely. Combine that with the crime solving and what comes to mind now? Shows like NCSI and CSI and its many spinoff should be first in your thoughts. Crime solving units around the world use databases on offenders to keep track of finger prints, blood type, and DNA. However has it ever crossed your mind…that your foot print could also end up in some national database? If you are like the rest of us this has not yet crossed your mind. The United Kingdom stores the imprints of thousands of shoe types and imprints from “suspects” left at crime scenes. The database was created by The Forensic Science Service and locates matches between shoe prints and crimes, much like DNA databases work here in America. While using footprints to solve crimes is not exactly new, a database allows Scotland yard to solve those tough to solve cases faster.

It is always very interesting to see a practical use for databases. When someone hears the term database some of us get this abstract idea of what a database is, and that it can be used for more than collecting simple and mundane information.  Databases play an active role in our society, and can be used for so many applications. I thought this article was really interesting because it talked about how the United Kingdom is using  a database for something some of us would never think to use a database for. That mindset will help us understand databases further as we break the traditional mold of we think databases can do.

Works Cited
James, R. (2007, January 29). Footprint database to help fight crime. Retrieved September 25, 2011, from The Guardian:
Jo, B. (2007, January 30). U.K. cops to roll out footprint database. Retrieved September 25, 2011, from Cnet:;rcol

2 thoughts on “Footprint Database used catch criminals!”

  1. That is actually really interesting. You’re actually right, I don’t think anyone has ever thought about their shoe print. But my question is, can a shoe print really be that incriminating? Does Scotland yard actually hold suspects simply on the bases of a foot print? If so, then that seems a little much to me. What if you were simply passing by right before the crime was committed? Or what if there is a bug in the database and profiles are mismatched? Then that person would be charged for a crime, when they might have not even been in the area. But I should say, I’m just giving examples of potential catastrophe.

  2. Yes, footprints do matter, believe it or not. Footprints are helpful and accurate when it comes to tracking down suspects, and even shoe prints have been used in many high-profile crimes. As for finding the prints of a passer-by, you can date the print to see a general time when the print was made. Also, if you’re at, say, a murder scene, then it’s definitely someone’s business if a print shows up AFTER the crime took place. Even if it’s not the suspect’s, it’s something experts would definitely want to follow. Also, if the database is mismatched, well…check their feet!

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