The Prison Service has announced a significant reduction in the number of inmates on protection in Ireland's jails.

Prisoners are usually placed on a restricted regime or locked in their cells for most of the day for their own protection.

However, in July 2013, the Prison Service began implementing a series of measures to reduce the numbers on protection.

It also tried to ensure that those who remained on protection got out of their cells for at least three hours a day.

As a result, the Prison Service said the number of protection prisoners dropped from 339 to 228, a reduction of 32% in six months.

It also said the numbers on 22 or 23-hour lock-up decreased by 161, or almost 76%, from 211 to 50 by the end of the year.

The Prison Service said the fact that protection prisoners are separated from the prison population demonstrates its commitment to ensuring their safety and security.

The figures are contained in the Probation Service Annual Report 2013