A BUS equipped with computers is the latest weapon in the fight against drugs in the villages around Durham.

The single-decker will tour the area, visiting known drug hot spots, to give out the anti-drugs message and provide activities for youngsters to keep them out of trouble.

Durham's Educational Resource in Communities (Deric) has been funded for two years by the Home Office's Communities Against Drugs initiative.

Staffed by youth workers, it will provide advice on drugs and sexual health and give 11 to 25-year-olds the chance to work on computers, watch TV or video, listen to music or play on a PlayStation.

Acting Superintendent Peter Davis, chairman of Durham's Community Safety Partnership, which was set up to help reduce crime and disorder, said: "It will be intelligence-led and will go into the communities where drugs are being used by young people.

"It will be used to educate young people about the dangers of using drugs.''

He said that it would also help provide a positive focus for young people and that similar schemes in Chester-le-Street and Darlington had proved successful.

Durham City Council's community safety officer, Geoff Smith, said: "We have seen the fantastic results of the Blitz Bus in Darlington and believe that Deric will be even more popular and valuable.

"It can travel to areas that have no community halls and offer the sort of help and advice that young people ask for. It is run by young people for young people.

"Deric is a great resource for Durham and will help to promote career and spare- time choices to the young in a friendly, accessible way.

"The computers will be available for young people who haven't got computers.''

He said it was hoped to make the project permanent. It had two years of Home Office funding but the city and county councils had indicated they might continue it.

The bus has places for 25 people and four laptop computers.

Advice on jobs, training, careers, housing benefits, health and council services will also be available.

The bus will visit villages in the area each day of the week.