Britain’s highest court in the land has given strong backing to the use of random stop-and-search powers to tackle gun and knife crime and gang violence.

Critics have said the UK’s legal powers have been used disproportionately by police against black people, but five supreme court justices emphasised the capability for saving lives.

The court held that there was a risk that a random, “suspicionless”, power of stop-and-search could be used in an arbitrary and discriminate manner in individual cases. But the deputy president of the supreme court, Lady Hale, sitting with Lord Clarke, Lord Reed, Lord Toulson and Lord Hodge, ruled that there were adequate safeguards in place and that there were “great benefits to the public in such a power”, particularly to the black community.

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