Forensic Podiatry

Forensic Podiatry

Qualified podiatrists are experts at dealing with problems and disorders specific to the area of the foot, ankle and lower leg. Their expertise enables them to perform podiatric exercises in a number of different fields. They can provide physiotherapy, rehabilitation, diagnosis and treatment to every day patients struggling with foot problems as-well as diabetics, medicolegal assessments to patients pursuing legal action and in the field of forensic podiatry.

What is Forensic Podiatry?

Like a finger print, every person's feet leave a unique pattern on any surface that is contacted. Although a fairly new method, forensic podiatry is a big part of forensic science. It utilises the expertise and knowledge of the foot and lower limb to examine foot- related evidence in legal or criminal investigations. It is beneficial to criminal and disaster cases providing identification of human beings through their footwear, footprints or through past medical record taken from previous visit to a podiatrist.

The foot evidence taken from humans can comprise of differing forms, static and dynamic foot impressions are one of the ways. Impressions are taken from the footprint inside of footwear, on surfaces, on victims, in substrates, partial remains or through records or x-rays.

In the case of an investigation, forensic podiatrists may use and examine footwear both inside and outside, examining the tread on the bottom of shoes. Footprints are examined or podiatrists may examine, analyse and compare the gait of the deceased of which is unknown.

Forensic podiatry can be used to identify perpetrators of crimes where barefoot prints, footwear and CCTV evidence is involved in the case. Podiatrists can identify criminals through assessment of the effects of the foot and the lower limb function, and can match foot to shoe. In cases where CCTV is being used forensic podiatrists can use their skills to examine the footage and compare gait patterns of people featured in the CCTV with those of suspected offenders.

Forensic Podiatry is based partly on the fact that people's feet generally have features that remain the same throughout their adult lives, for instance if you have a foot deformity such as a bunion or a rigid big toe, they are likely to be present forever. No matter where you are or what you do, your foot will leave the same mark.

Although maybe not enough in some cases to prosecute criminals, evidence collected on the foot or gait patterns can be used in conjunction with other evidence to form a robust case against the suspected perpetrator.

How long has Forensic Podiatry been used?

Podiatry in general has been around for many years but despite being talked as a benefit in forensics for over 90 years, forensic podiatry has only been present in modern day practices for around 15 years. Forensic podiatrists are now present in most cases where forensics are required and are widely used across the UK and US within crime scene investigations. Many other countries still do not use podiatry as a method to investigate crimes.