The Irish Prison Service says the number of people being sent to prison is continuing to drop because of new fines legislation.

The law allows for the payment of fines in instalments or for a judge to make a return or attachment order.

The Prison Service Annual report shows just over 12,500 people were sent to jail last year, a reduction of over 11%.

More than half of those jailed were for non-payment of fines, 8,500 committals last year, a drop of over 14% on 2015. Three-quarters were men.

The prison service says, however, provisional figures for the first quarter of this year show fine defaulters down by around 50%.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust has welcomed the latest figures, saying it "marks a shift away from Ireland's chronic over-reliance on prison as a response to failures in social policy."

However, IPRT also called for improved oversights of the Irish prison system.