Europe's leading human rights body has slammed conditions in Greek prisons and criticized the handling of police brutality allegations, saying not enough improvements have been made despite repeated recommendations.

The situation in Greece's prisons has "further deteriorated to the point where lives are being lost," the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture said in a report released Tuesday. It cited severe overcrowding, lack of health care and major staff shortages.

The report said many prisons were "merely acting as warehouses in which to hold people" and likened the situation to "a boiling cauldron left to simmer away with violent eruptions every few months."

The government response, also released Tuesday, noted improvements in some areas, and said efforts were being made to address other issues.