Police in England and Wales have completed deployment of a searchable palm-print identification system that over the past two weeks has already matched hundreds of prints with potential suspects, according to UK officials.

The palm-print system is part of IDENT1, a biometric identity platform that includes 6.5 million sets of fingerprints from the NAFIS (National Automated Fingerprint Identification System), said Kay Odysseos, projects communication coordinator for the PITO (Police Information Technology Organisation). PITO is responsible for procurement of police IT systems in the UK.

IDENT1 is linked into the PNC (Police National Computer), a 30-year-old system that includes national vehicle and names registry, among others, Odysseos said. IDENT1 was developed under a contract with Northrop Grumman Corp.

Palm prints account for some 20 percent of marks at crime scenes, according PITO. Within minutes of using the new search capabilities, the Northhamptonshire Police in Northhampton, England, matched a palm print from an October 2005 robbery to a suspect's prints held in a local database, PITO said

So far, 1.5 million palm prints are in the system, Odysseos said. Since the national searching capability was added over the past two weeks, more than 500 matches of prints to crime scenes have been made, she said.

"We are looking to continue and grow that database," Odysseos said.