DUBLIN, Ireland - In a bid to tackle cross-border crime more effectively, Ireland has implemented new laws aimed at allowing other nations to access its DNA database of criminal suspects.
On Monday, Ireland unveiled the new laws, that the country's officials said would allow the exchange and comparison of forensic identification evidence between Ireland and other countries, especially those in the European Union.
Explaining Ireland's decision, the country's Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan said, "The coming into operation of these legal provisions will facilitate the exchange of DNA profiles and other identification evidence with other States, greatly enhancing international cooperation, particularly in combating terrorism and cross-border crime. I have no doubt that access to DNA and such databases between States has huge potential to be very useful in view of the international mobility of criminals."
Flanagan addd, "I am also conscious, however, of the need to achieve an appropriate balance between the investigation of crime in the public interest and protecting individuals' personal rights. The mutual assistance arrangements in place in our national legislation ensure that personal data of Irish citizens accessed by other States will have the same level of safeguards as would apply to such data in respect of criminal investigations within this jurisdiction."
Irish officials also pointed out that the law, that came into force on Monday, will follow a process that will be "strictly controlled and have regard to data protection requirements in respect of personal data."
On Monday, the EU Council approved the cooperation between EU member states, Iceland and Norway, confirming that the intelligence sharing will now commence on a phased basis in Ireland.
Effective crime fighting tool
Ireland's national DNA Database System is maintained and operated by Forensic Science Ireland, which is headed by Director General Chris Enright.
Over the last three years, Ireland has been building its DNA database system that currently contains 16,361 DNA profiles of suspected offenders and convicted offenders.
It also contains a total of 4,971 crime stain profiles.
According to Forensic Science Ireland, the database helps match DNA profiles from crime scenes with DNA profiles uploaded from individuals under criminal investigation, convicted criminals and former offenders.
It is not only seen as an effective intelligence tool, but experts pointed out that 37 out of every 100 crime stains uploaded to the system, are linked to a person.
Till date, there have been some 1,825 person-to-stain matches, and a crime stain match effective rate of 36.7 percent, on par with international standards.