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U.K. government loans laptops to prisoners

Aims to help people in "complex" cases research evidence against them while they are incarcerated.

British prisoners are to be given laptop PCs while they are incarcerated to research evidence set out against them.

The Home Office, the U.K. government agency that oversees the prison system, said the move will help prisoners and people awaiting sentencing to understand the legal process and prepare their case, especially if it is deemed "complex."

A Home Office representative said: "Increasingly, judges are insisting that prisoners involved in complex cases are given sole use of a laptop. Under the Access for Justice Scheme, they can go through the paperwork, a lot of which is available only on DVD."

The laptops have been modified, the Home Office said, to prevent prisoners from accessing the Internet or using them for unrelated purposes.

But it refused to say how much money it was spending on the plan.

A report in the Daily Mirror on Wednesday said at least 28 laptops costing about $1,740 have been bought for terrorist suspects currently held in Belmarsh prison in London.

The Home Office would not specify who would receive the laptops, but said: "These laptops are available to those with complex cases, whether or not that includes terrorist suspects."

Dan Ilett of reported from London.