The underlying principles involved in the interpretation of shoeprint comparisons have become a topical subject due to criticisms in the 2009 National Academy of Science (NAS) report on forensic sciences[1]. Difficulties in the application and understanding of these principles were also highlighted in a recent court ruling [2–5] and subsequent discussion of the ruling.We report here a survey that may inform some aspects of this interpretation and discuss the implications of findings from this survey in the light of that court ruling and more importantly the NAS report.

1,511 shoeprints were taken from student volunteers in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin, New Zealand. 500 shoeprints were sampled from student volunteers at Australian universities. 100 from each of the University of Technology in Sydney, University of Queensland in Brisbane, University of Newcastle, Charles Sturt University in Bathurst and University of Canberra, Australia. These cities are distributed along the east coast of Australia. The shoeprints, taken from each country, were compared against each other for the presence of any pattern correspondences. However shoeprints have not been compared between countries. In all locations the pattern of some common and many rare outsole patterns was repeated, with Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars and Vans Canvas Era common in all locations.