Inmates at The Mount prison in Bovingdon will be putting their IT skills to use to help disadvantaged communities access cheap computers.

Prisoners will take part in the Computers4all scheme, which aims to refurbish and upgrade old computers and then offer them to charities and education projects at low prices.

Selected inmates will be given training to "build, configure and troubleshoot PCs to a high quality." The training will ensure that inmates can repair both the hardware and software of old computers.

HMP The Mount will host the first workshop in the scheme. The workshop will initially involve eight prisoners and is expected  to increase if the project grows.

Steve Bradford, the governor at HMP The Mount said: "We are delighted to have launched the first Computers4All refurbishment centre here. This is a scheme that looks set to bring huge benefits for prisoners participating in the training. Prisoners do not have access to the Internet or internal computer systems.

"However, this IT course will provide training in skills and disciplines that will have a real value for them as they re-enter the workplace. Ultimately the end result is that we are providing high quality equipment that can help disadvantaged groups in society who might otherwise be excluded from having computers and being able to access the internet."

The prisoners involved will receive an industry-standard qualification in IT after completing the training course. Organisers believe the project will also provide inmates with valuable skills that can help them find employment after release.

The charity Langdon, which offers support, education and employment opportunities for people with learning difficulties, will be the first organisation to work with the computers repaired at The Mount and will manage their sales through an online store.

Mark Abrahams, CEO of Computers4All said: "The refurbishment of old computer equipment offers environmental and social benefits as equipment that would otherwise be 'retired' or disposed of can be put to good use again. Around 126,000 tonnes of IT equipment is simply dumped in landfill sites annually; anything we can do to reduce this waste can bring dividends all round."