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Dublin: 16°C Wednesday 16 June 2021

Ireland's DNA database to be shared with other European countries to help fight cross-border crime

Ireland’s DNA database holds 16,361 DNA profiles of suspected offenders and convicted offenders.

A West Yorkshire Police officer holding a new mobile fingerprint scanning system.
A West Yorkshire Police officer holding a new mobile fingerprint scanning system.
Image: Peter Byrne

IRELAND WILL BE sharing forensic data with other nations, mostly from the EU, in the hope that it will help solve more cases.

From today, Ireland will have access to DNA databases in other countries, but the government has also stressed that the process will be “strictly controlled and have regard to data protection requirements in respect of personal data”.

The national DNA Database System, maintained and operated by Forensic Science Ireland, helps match DNA profiles from crime scenes with DNA profiles uploaded from individuals under criminal investigation, convicted criminals and former offenders.

Since the start of November, the database contained 16,361 DNA profiles of suspected offenders and convicted offenders, along with 4,971 crime stain profiles.

There have been some 1,825 person-to-stain matches to date, with a crime stain match effective rate of 36.7%, which compares well internationally.

The EU Council has approved the cooperation between EU member states, Iceland and Norway, and will commence on a phased basis in Ireland from today.

Minister 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.

He added:

“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.

The Minister praised the work of Forensic Science Ireland, which is headed up by Director General Chris Enright, on its “successful operation” of the DNA Database System to date.  

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