SCHOOL buses are to be fitted with security cameras in a bid to reduce bad behaviour by passengers.

The investment by Go North-East and Durham County Council means that school buses in Bishop Auckland will soon be among the best protected on the roads.

Their initiative will see six Go North-East double-decker buses fitted with cameras to ensure that any incidents of anti-social behaviour are recorded.

Jeff Hodgson, staff co-ordinator at Go North-East's Bishop Auckland depot, said: "The introduction of these high quality cameras does act as a deterrent.

"We work very closely with the schools we serve and have also developed closer liaison with police in the area.

"Footage not only records incidents on board, but also serves as evidence in the event of accidents in front of, or behind, a bus."

Durham County Council has helped install cameras on school buses for six years with an eventual aim to cover all the school runs. in its area.

Over the past three years, the council has helped provide 22 Go North-East buses with cameras in addition to helping provide the system to a number of other smaller bus companies.

The new funding has been praised by schools, whose staff say they support any investment in increased protection for their pupils.

Peter Coady, deputy headteacher of St John's School, in BishopAuckland, said: "Our point of view is that money brought in for anything that increases the safety of our pupils is a good thing."

A spokesman for the county council said: "Good pupil behaviour on school transport is essential in ensuring the safety of the vehicle, its passengers, other road users and pedestrians."

He said the feedback from the bus companies on whose vehicles security cameras had been installed had been extremely positive .

The spokesman said: "It is proving to be a very successful scheme."