A high security prison, housing some of Britain's most vile women, is having to use buckets to cope with a leaky roof.

HMP Low Newton is home to Tracey Connelly, the evil mum of Baby P, as well as a string of sex offenders, murderers and "high security" inmates.

'House of Horrors' fiend Rose West was an inmate, but moved last year after another serial killer - Joana Dennehy - reportedly threatened to kill her.

But the prison's "deteriorating" roof is reportedly causing chaos for inmates.

Workshops and classrooms have been closed due to the damp, which a watchdog fears is a health and safety risk.

It is one of a string of issues flagged during an Independent Monitoring Board review into the County Durham prison.

Inspectors were also worried that female prisoners were being kept locked up in jail, rather than a suitable mental health facility, due to a lack of community provision.

However inspectors praised the state of the prison as well as the staff.

HMP and YOI Low Newton prison in Brasside near Durham
HMP and YOI Low Newton prison in Brasside near Durham

"The establishment is kept clean, tidy and maintained both inside and outside," reads the watchdog's report.

"Staffing levels are high and prison officers treat residents with respect.

"The residents are treated fairly and humanely. The observed interactions between staff and residents have been good and friendly."

And the new report from the watchdog reveals the number of inmates has shrunk due to Covid-19.

Coronavirus deaths are falling.

Back in April, a 46-year-old inmate was the first British female prisoner to die from coronavirus.

Since then, the jail's capacity has been reduced by almost 20 per cent in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

The prison recently tweeted it is currently "covid-free", and has eased rules, with visits reinstated while a boutique even opened last month for criminals to buy clothes - including flip flops and knickers.

A new fashion store has opened inside HMP Low Newton

Despite its infamous inmates, the majority of prisoners are either on remand or serving sentences of less than six months.

Yet even though most of those locked up are not serious offenders, inspectors found the threat of violence is never far away.

"Over the period of this report, there have been 85 violent incidents," states the inspectors, whose report covered the period between March 2019 and February this year.

"This includes fights, assaults on residents and assaults on staff."

HMP and YOI Low Newton prison in Brasside near Durham
HMP and YOI Low Newton prison in Brasside near Durham

However there was one particularly aggressive inmate who gave security staff a huge headache.

Inspectors found that force had to be used to control one woman on 47 occasions - almost, on average, once every week.

And the prison has still not totally snuffed out the buscopan problem which has plagued it for "some years".

In 2017, it was reported prisoners were getting high by smoking crushed up tablets - typically used to tackle Irritable Bowel Syndrome - as a substitute for spice.

A homeless man holds out his hand to show a bag of spice he says he has bought for £20 , which he describes as a single day's supply for himself
A homeless man holds out his hand to show a bag of spice he says he has bought for £20 , which he describes as a single day's supply for himself

"Buscopan is the drug of choice in the prison. It is readily available in the community and has been easy to smuggle into the prison," states the report.

"It is undetectable by mandatory drug testing or drug dogs."

Failed drug tests have gone up, largely down to illegal opiates. Drug debts, say inspectors, are often paid off in vaping carriages rather than cash.

However in a bid to improve prisoner's prospects upon release, inspectors have questioned if the prison could be remodelled to create more space for manual courses, such as DIY and bricklaying.

But despite the demand for education, the leaky roof means classroom capacity has actually been lowered.

"Physically, there are serious problems with the roofs of various parts of the prison leaking water, and as a result there has been a restriction in the available number of education classrooms and workshops," states the report.

"This has meant a reduction in the number of jobs and facilities available to the women."

"The deteriorating state of the prison roofs is of great concern to the Board..

"There are also health and safety issues when buckets and other containers have to be put out to catch rainwater."

The Ministry of Justice was approached for comment.