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Forensic Podiatry Special Interest Group

Forensic Podiatry Special Interest Group


Forensic Podiatry is a highly specialised area of Podiatry practice defined as:

The application of sound and researched podiatry knowledge and experience in forensic investigations, to show the association of an individual with a scene of crime, or to answer any other legal question concerned with the foot or footwear that requires knowledge of the functioning foot"1 (Vernon &McCourt, 1999)

There are four areas of Forensic Podiatry practice, namely:

1.  Record Card Identification – the use of Podiatrists ante-mortem records to assist the identification process

2.  Bare Footprints – the evaluation of bare footprints from a Podiatrists perspective

3.  Footwear - the assessment of wear features of footwear as part of the identification process, usually in considering the association of the wear features of shoes with a possible wearer

4. Forensic Gait Analysis – “The identification of a person or persons by their gait or features of their gait, usually from CCTV footage and comparison to footage of a known individual”2

Training and Education

The International Association for Identification has produced a document defining the Role and Scope of Practice of Forensic Podiatry3.

There are three levels required in training as a Forensic Podiatrist, namely:

1) To have a qualification to allow practice as a Podiatrist.

2) Gaining post-graduate knowledge relevant to the practice of Forensic Podiatry (e.g. through M-level study in areas relevant to Forensic Podiatry practice, forensic science/forensic identification study, relevant research, or demonstrable experience).

3) Becoming competent as a forensic practitioner (e.g. through forensic science/forensic identification study, repeated workshop, seminar, or conference-based training, training in comparative analysis, expert witness training, mock case working, assisting in case work under supervision, mentorship).

There are a number of areas closely related to the role and scope of Forensic Podiatry practice which are beyond the remit of Forensic Podiatrists. These are detailed in the IAI's Role and Scope of Practice document.


When a Podiatrist begins to undertake forensic case work, we would strongly recommend seeking a mentor/clinical supervisor who has knowledge of/experience in this field of work. Whilst it would be preferable to have a Forensic Podiatrist as a sole mentor, this is not essential and could be fulfilled, in part, by a practitioner from another forensic discipline, for example, a forensic marks examiner who is familiar with the role of the Podiatrist in forensic identification.

Please contact Professor Wesley Vernon OBE, PhD for further information on the above and Mr Haydn Kelly FCPodS, BSc for information on Forensic Gait Analysis.

What’s New

On 30 March 2011, The UK Supreme Court ruled that the immunity of Expert Witnesses (concerning content of expert reports and performances in the witness box) be abolished. This follows on from the removal of Advocates' immunity in 2001, meaning that those involved in Expert Witness work need to ensure that they have appropriate indemnity insurance: http://ukscblog.com/case-comment-jones-v-kaney-2011-uksc-13

Further details on the judgment

Publication Ref:

There are a number of areas closely related to the role and scope of Forensic Podiatry practice which are beyond the remit of Forensic Podiatrists. These are detailed in the IAI's Role and Scope of Practice document. Members of the Forensic Podiatry Special Interest Group are regularly asked how a Podiatrist should develop expertise in this area and with this in mind, the  recommendations included in the Forensic Podiatry - advice recommendations on obtaining developing expertise 2011have been produced.

For further details of references please see the attached pdf:  
Special Interest Group Contacts

Mr Haydn Kelly (Forensic Gait Analysis)
Email: hdkelly@podiatry.co.uk

Prof Wesley Vernon (Barefoot prints & Footwear)
Email: wesvernon@yahoo.co.uk

Publication Ref:

1 Vernon D.W., McCourt F.J., “Forensic Podiatry - a review and definition”, British Journal of
Podiatry, Vol. 2, No. 2, May 1999, p.45-48.
2 Kelly H.D., Old Bailey Central Criminal Court London. R-V Saunders, 2000
3 Vernon W., Brodie B., DiMaggio J., Gunn N., Kelly H., Nirenberg M., Reel S., Walker J., Forensic podiatry: role and scope of practice (In the context of forensic human identification).
International Association for Identification http://www.theiai.org, 2009.

 External Online Resources and Links:

- University of Huddersfield: postgraduate course commencing September 2011

Further details: Universityof Huddersfield» Course finder» Forensic Podiatry PgCert’

 - University of Staffordshire: ‘Footwear inDiagnosis and Therapy’, postgraduate certificate

- University of Staffordshire: negotiated Masters Degree which can be used to gain a MSc in Forensic Podiatry

- Cameron Forensic Medical Sciences (William Harvey Research Institute), Barts and The London: MSc Forensic Medical Sciences. www.whri.qmul.ac.uk/cfms/courses/

 - Diploma in Forensic Human Identification (DFHID): The Diploma is two years part time with the second year being devoted to a dissertation. On successful completion, the Diploma is awarded by the Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine, Royal College of Physicians, London  www.afms.org.uk

 - Certificate in Expert Witness Accreditation: Jointly by University of Cardiff Law School and Bond Solon: www.bondsolon.com/expert-witness-qualification/