A TOP security jail faced with “considerable challenges” is reported to be “making progress”.

Frankland, at Brasside, Durham, is said to have “maintained equilibrium”, with inmates feeling safer there than at other similar jails in the prison establishment.

Those were some of the findings of Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, following an unannounced inspection.

Frankland is the largest of the five dispersal jails in England and Wales holding high risk Category A inmates.

It has previously been described as “a powder keg”, with high profile attacks on both inmates and staff in recent years, including the murder of a child rapist by fellow prisoners and the slashing of Soham murderer Ian Huntley’s throat.

Mr Hardwick said a previous inspection, in 2011, found an establishment which had made, “commendable progress.”

He said: “The latest inspection indicates that progress continues despite considerable challenges, including the recent murder of a prisoner and serious assaults on staff.”

But he said inspectors were “pleased” to find that, although risk is “ever present”, the prison had, “maintained equilibrium and was generally safe.”

Although levels of violence were not high, when incidents took place, they were, however, capable of, “being extreme”.

Most staff members were described as “knowledgeable and respectful” and relationships with prisoners were, “generally good”.

Inspectors concerns, however, included the quality of staff supervision on the vulnerable prisoner wings and in communal areas, where CCTV coverage, "could have been better”.

The report highlighted the diversion of prescribed medications as, “a significant problem”, while many minority groups held, “comparatively negative perceptions” about their treatment.

The unannounced inspection took place over a week last December.