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4. Looking at Patterns

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Forensic scientists can look at particular shapes of features that can be used to identify people (for example fingerprints) or can link objects to each other (for example the pattern on the sole of your shoes). Forensic scientists look at the different details in fingerprint patterns or in footwear marks (also called shoeprints) to work out whether a fingerprint could have been left by a particular person, or a shoe could have made a specific footwear mark. In these examples the decisions made about whether the patterns match each other are mostly subjective which means that they are opinions rather than objective decisions which are based on measured facts. Whether an opinion is objective or subjective can be very important in forensic science and when presented as evidence in the courts.

The Case: As the thief walked through the museum they also left some footwear marks which were recovered by the forensic scientists for analysis.

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