New laws allowing the exchange and comparison of forensic identification evidence between Ireland and other countries come into force today.

It is hoped the exchange of information like DNA profiles and fingerprints will help police combat terrorism and cross-border crime.

The DNA database system in Ireland has been up and running for three years and is operated by Forensic Science Ireland.

It contains DNA profiles from more than 16,000 suspected and convicted offenders, along with nearly 5,000 "crime stains", or DNA profiles collected at crime scenes.

The database is seen as an effective intelligence tool, and 37 out of every 100 crime stains uploaded to the system, are linked to a person.

From today, forensic data like DNA profiles and fingerprints can be shared with other states.

Access to the information will be strictly controlled and adhere to data protection requirements.

Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan said the move will help police "in closing the net on criminals who travel from one country to another" to carry out crimes.