A PRISON housing some of Britain’s most dangerous women including up until recently serial killer Rose West is using buckets to manage a leaky roof.

In an independent review of HMP Prison Low Newton, in Durham, a prison watchdog said the prison is suffering with serious problems due to leaks, restricting the available number of education classrooms and workshops.

Inspectors from the Independent Monitoring Board said the problem has meant a reduction in the number of jobs and facilities available to the women and has prompted health and safety concerns.

They said: "The deteriorating state of the prison roofs is of great concern to the board. A number of classrooms and workshop areas are out of action. This causes a reduction in education and work opportunities for the women. There are also health and safety issues when buckets and other containers have to be put out to catch rainwater."

The Brasside prison originally opened as a remand centre in 1965 and was turned into a women’s prison in 1998 when it was refurbished.

It now consists of eight residential wings, together with general prisoner use areas.

The inspection board said it has had, for several years, concerns surrounding prisoners who are suffering from mental health issues.

As noted in previous reports, inspectors said it appears that some women are being detained owing to the lack of places of safety in the community.

In the report, it states: “The healthcare unit diligently assesses prisoners and their mental health with a view to referral, where appropriate, to hospital at the earliest opportunity, but this can still take some time and is constrained by the difficulty of arranging a secure hospital bed.

"It is the board’s opinion that the prison provides an environment that protects the safety of the residents. The establishment is kept clean, tidy and maintained both inside and outside. Staffing levels are high and prison officers treat residents with respect."

In response, a Prison Service spokesperson said: “We are pleased inspectors recognised the efforts made staff to create a safe and well-run prison.

“New teams dedicated to finding housing for prisoners upon release have been introduced and we work closely with local authorities to help those at risk of homelessness.”

Over the year of the report, there was 85 violent incidents which includes fights, assaults on residents and assaults on staff.

Security staff identified 208 banned items during the same period.

During the calendar year 2019, there were 182 incidents in which force was used.

Non-compliance and to prevent self-harm were the most common reasons for using force throughout the year.

Force had to be used to control one woman on 47 occasions.