Britain is launching a database of thousands of shoes and shoe types next month to help track down criminals.
The database is thought to be the first of its kind in the world.
The Footwear Intelligence Tool will be similar to the database of genetic samples that Britain created in 1995, which now has millions of DNA profiles.
"Footwear marks at the scene are the second biggest evidence type behind blood and DNA," Dr Romelle Piercy, of the Forensic Science Service (FSS) in London, said.
Like fingerprints, hair, blood or fibres, footprints are left at many crime scenes - on carpets or bodies as well as in earth or mud and are often highly distinctive.
Footwear prints and marks from crime scenes and information from manufacturers will be loaded on to the database, which will be updated daily. Similar clues have already been used to track down suspected bombers and in other major criminal cases.
"The technology, like the DNA database, has no upper limits as far I am aware," Dr Piercy said.
The archive, to be launched on February 15, will include information on shoe type, colour, branding and marks as well as demographic information. It already contains over 1,000 distinguishing marks on Nike training shoes alone.