A North East prison has been slammed by an ombudsman following safety concerns about CCTV blackspots in the prison. 

HMP Low Newton, located in Durham, was told by the Independent Monitoring Boards (IMB) that it lacked adequate CCTV coverage, and areas where visibility is low could result in violence.

Other concerns about the prison noted that there had been a rise in the number of illicit items found on the premises, staff shortages, and high levels of ill mental health in the prison population. 

IMBs monitor the treatment received by those detained in custody to confirm it is fair, just and humane, by observing the compliance with relevant rules and standards of decency.

Read more: REVIEW: Burnopfield Psycho Path North East scream park 2023

HMP Low Newton is a closed women's prison for both adults and young offenders in Brasside, County Durham. The prison, which is operated by His Majesty's Prison Service, is next to HMP Frankland, a Category A men's prison.

Some of the prison's most notorious former residents include Rose West, and Peterborough Ditch Murderer Johanna Dennehy. It has been reported that Lucy Letby could be placed in Low Newton. 

About the issues with CCTV, the IMB wrote: "There continues to be a concern that, due to a lack of funding, some areas of the prison (eg the education block and the chapel) lack adequate CCTV coverage. This could enable violence in those areas."

"There remain obvious further needs, including enhanced CCTV, a wellbeing clinic, heating in the segregation unit and capital investment in the education facilities."

Get the latest news, sports, and entertainment delivered straight to your device by subscribing to The Northern Echo here

But they also added: "The prison is a reasonably safe environment for prisoners and staff. Staff are vigilant but not oppressive.

"The number of violent incidents has decreased despite a greater degree of prisoner freedom. Use of force is kept at low levels, but the Board will monitor this more."

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said: "All our prisons have the necessary security measures and procedures in place to manage offenders and keep the public safe."