NEW details of the chaos that broke out within a Cumbrian prison after inmates were told cigarettes were banned have emerged.

The annual report on HMP Haverigg from the Independent Monitoring Board - published today - states the nine hour riot had a 'serious operational impact' on the site, near Millom, which took place in August last year.

Angry lags smashed sinks, flooded cells and trashed equipment like televisions on the Langdale Wing in protest at the smoking ban.

The incident resulted in over 50 'Tornado' trained officers from other prisons across the North West being urgently drafted in to break the siege and regain control of the residential block.

Some 55 prisoners had to be immediately transferred off the Category C site to other prisons across the country while the wing in question was treated as a crime scene.

Prison bosses had no choice but to close the unit for four weeks to repair the significant damage caused.

It is thought the protest was sparked after new national guidelines to outlaw smoking inside jails to improve the health of prisoners and staff was rolled out at HMP Haverigg, Cumbria's only jail.

The report found some prisoners who were not involved in the action were unfairly disadvantaged as a result after they were moved without any of their possessions.

The Independent Monitoring Board, a national body that inspects conditions within UK prisons to ensure the welfare of inmates, concluded: "The indiscipline which occurred in August on one residential unit required the efforts of National Response Teams together with over 50 'Tornado' trained officers from other prisons in the North West to attend the unit to assert control following several hours of rioting by prisoners on the wings.

"The resultant damage required the closure of the unit for over four weeks to enable major repairs to be carried out.

"It is thought that the unrest may be related to the no smoking ban implemented last year."

Lynn Chambers, chairman of the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Haverigg, was on site as the riot took hold.

She said the governor and staff had acted quickly to bring the unrest to an end.

But Mrs Chambers added: "The accommodation block was uninhabitable so a number of prisoners were transferred overnight and early the next morning.

"We were very concerned for those not involved who were moved without their possessions and who may have been in the middle of completing courses ahead of their release.

"It seemed to us that these people had been disadvantaged, but there was little that could be done when the accommodation unit had been damaged.

"The governor has since arranged for some of these inmates to move back."

HMP Haverigg - A prison of two halves

CUMBRIA'S category C jail is a prison of two halves, independent inspectors claim as a new report on conditions for inmates is published.

HMP Haverigg has similar problems associated with drugs, debt and bullying that are seen at other prisons across the UK, said Lynn Chambers, a member of the Independent Monitoring Board.

But its large site allows inmates plenty of opportunities to get outside, she added, while opportunities to learn skills to help secure employment upon release are also good.

Mrs Chambers, who is one of six members of IMB Haverigg group, said the last 12 months at Haverigg had been 'challenging' but that there were reasons to be positive about the year ahead.

She added: "This is a prison of two halves.

"It has many of the problems that we are used to hearing about at other sites such as drugs, debt and bullying.

"These are things that we keep a close eye on.

"But there are a number of really positive things about Haverigg. Things we can be hopeful about.

"These include the launch of the Park Run, which 20 per cent of inmates are now involved in.

"This is absolutely fantastic, it promotes health and brings out the best in them.

"Being a fairly large site, there is also the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. There is less opportunity for this within prisons in cities."

HMP Haverigg is located near Millom, on Cumbria's west coast.

The site is a former airfield base used during World War Two - with some of the original buildings still in use.

It is considered a large site and has more than four miles of boundary wall.

An annual report on the prison, carried out by the IMB, concluded: "The prison continues to provide good, and in some respects, excellent, training opportunities, often with vocational qualifications, to equip prisoners with the skills they need on release.

"The opportunity exists for all prisoners, subject to health and other constraints, to be employed.

Mrs Chambers, went on: “Skills training is particularly important for prisoners on release, as gainful employment is a significant factor in reducing re-offending."

HMP Haverigg was found to have been blighted by drugs and violence, a 2016 inspection report found.

As a result, its population was halved to around 275.

A follow up inspection last year found conditions were improving but that more needed to be done.

Cumbria MP speaks of bid to improve the UK prisons service

Cumbria MP Rory Stewart - the UK's prisons minister - is working to secure widespread improvements across the service this year.

Mr Stewart, who represents Penrith and the Borders, said he was unhappy with the state of UK prisons as he pledged to 'start with the basics' on his journey to driving up standards within jails.

Earlier this month Mr Stewart said he believed improvements were already underway as he aims to drive out drugs in prisons, to make sites cleaner and to boost the employment prospects of inmates upon release to reduce the rate of re-offending.

An MoJ statement said: "We are taking unprecedented action to clamp down on the supply of drugs and illegal items in our prisons – and these figures show our efforts are working.

"This includes an innovative new drug testing programme, over 300 dogs to detect psychoactive substances, and making it a criminal offence to possess psychoactive substances in prison.

"Staffing also plays a vital role in ensuring our prisons are places of safety, and we have invested £100 million to boost the front line by 2,500 prison officers by the end of 2018."

Mobile phones, tablets, drugs and weapons - the items confiscated within Cumbria's prison

MOBILE phones and tablets, sim cards, drugs and weapons were among hundreds of items confiscated within Cumbria's prison in the last three years.

The majority were thought to have been thrown over the outer wall of HMP Haverigg, near Millom, to prisoners waiting inside, while others were smuggled into the secure facility during visits.

The itinerary, accessed by CN Group in December using Freedom of Information laws, revealed 125 items had been seized so far this year at the prison despite the reduced population of 268 inmates.

It includes 66 mobile phones, sim cards, chargers and memory sticks and four mobile tablets.

Drugs were discovered on 31 occasions, while 11 weapons were found.