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<strong>GAIT PATTERN</strong>

Gait pattern of a person being analyzed while walking
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Gait pattern refers to the pattern of walking of an individual person. This pattern is unique to each individual and is included in the forensic identification. Gait pattern analysis is a sort of tracking technique which is helpful in elucidating a lot of information about a person. This is studied under the field of forensic podiatry and the analyst is called forensic podiatrist.

Gait analysis includes the scientific study of the gait pattern. This can be done by analyzing the footprints found on the surface and the CCTV footage in which the concerned person is seen walking.

Forensic Palyonology

Gait pattern is formed due to the locomotion of the limbs. It is an unconscious act that’s why it is very helpful in forensic identification. Also footprints are one of the most encountered prints or impressions on the crime scenes of theft, burglary, homicide, sexual assaults, etc. 

Analysis of Gait Pattern

Forensic gait analysis can be defined as the assessment and evaluation of the gait patterns and features of the person or suspect and comparing these features with the scene of crime evidence for criminal or personal identification.

Gait pattern analysis was first observed for the medical examination to determine the cause of any locomotive disorder in the individual. Then later, it gained popularity in forensic analysis. The first case in which gait pattern analysis got admissible was in the Old Bailey Central Criminal Court, London, UK, in the case of R.V. Saunders by the U.K. based forensic podiatrist, Dr. Haydn Kelly.

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Walking is a dynamic process which occurs in a pattern that includes a cycle of various movement stages in the foot and known as gait cycle. Each gait cycle is known as a stride and consists of stance phase and swing phase. 

Stance phase refers to the phase which includes 5 stages namely- initial contact, loading response, mid-stance, terminal stance, and pre-swing. It begins when the foot first touches the ground and ends when the same foot leaves the ground. The stance phase makes up approximately 60% of the gait cycle.

Swing phase is constituted by 3 stages namely- initial swing, mid-swing, and terminal swing. It begins when the foot first leaves the ground and ends when the same foot touches the ground again. The swing phase makes up the other 40% of the gait cycle.

Collection of Gait pattern Evidence

Gait pattern is collected by the method of photography of the series of footprints found on the crime scene.

Forensic gait pattern examination is done by following the below mentioned steps:

  • Analysis
  • Comparison
  • Evaluation
  • Verification
  • Report

The above mentioned steps are abbreviated as ACE-VR in the forensic gait pattern examination.

Gait pattern is a composite of various features or parameters. The individuality of the gait pattern can be established by analyzing these parameters. There are a number of features present in a gait and their measurements can be categorized as static and dynamic measurements. 

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Static measurements are the geometrical features of the body such as the leg length, foot length and height, length of knee, etc.

Dynamic measurements include the features like stride length, stride width, direction line, walk line, foot line, foot angle, step angle, etc. The features aforesaid are called spatial parameters. Features like hip angle, knee angle, etc. are also considered for the gait pattern analysis.

If the analysis is to be done through the observing videos or footages then temporal(time) parameters are accounted for. They include the step time, stride time, stance duration, swing duration, swing/stance ratio, speed, etc.

Gait pattern analysis method is based on the form of the pattern evidence in which they are found, i.e. whether the footprints are found on the surface or the video showing the person walking.

If footprints are found on the surface then the gait pattern analysis is done by considering  the above mentioned essential parameters. The measurements of the parameters are noted manually and then analyzed by comparing the gait pattern found on crime scene with the suspect’s gait pattern. The gait pattern in the CCTV footage from various sources is analyzed by considering the temporal parameters of the gait.

The gait pattern analysis was started as a manual approach in which the analyst conduct the examination based on three approaches- photo-anthropometry (measurement of set landmarks), morphometric analysis (morphological measurements taken from the photographs), and superimposition (photo-anthropometric and morphological measurements are superimposed to find match between suspected and standard photographs).

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With the introduction of technology the gait pattern examination has now become computer-based human-assisted. It involves algorithms that can either be model-based(gait features are extracted from the predefined human based fixed landmarks)  or appearance based(extracting silhouette sequences of walking individuals). Then a match score is obtained between the standard and suspected gait, in both the algorithms.

There are various factors which affect the gait pattern and its analysis. They include footwear, surface, location, direction, disease, fatigue, age, sex, speed, pregnancy, angle of photographic camera, lighting conditions of the scene, etc.

Conclusion

Gait pattern as obvious is a unique feature to every individual, hence it is an important characteristic in establishing the identity of a person, which is the key concern of forensic examination. Gait pattern analysis can decipher the information about the sex, stature, weight of individuals, number of people involved, use of walking aid if any, type of footwear used by the people involved, any specific disease or disorder related to walking, etc.

Although gait pattern analysis is a useful tool for forensic science, still it has few drawbacks as mentioned above that limits its potential. Therefore, there is a requirement of robust methods to analyse the gait patterns that can help the law in a better way without any ambiguity and doubt for the purpose of justice.

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