Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg last night called for police to carry out spot checks on people suspected of carrying knives and guns after two shootings in 48 hours in Bradford at the weekend.

The MP said that, while he would not support a Conservative call for a blanket ban on stop and search, intelligence-led searches were the way forward.

Speaking to the Telegraph & Argus, he said: "I think there is a role for spot checks in those areas where the police suspect particular people will be carrying guns or knives but I have to say I strongly disagreed with the push from the Tories to move towards a blanket stop and search as there is no evidence that it works.

"It takes up a lot of police time and they do not result in a significant decrease in the carrying of weapons. It needs to be intelligence-led.

"We have got to do more to take guns off our streets. It is frankly absurd that there are nine times as many customs officers chasing illegal tobacco than there are trying to clamp down on illegal trade of guns.

"All of these guns are coming from somewhere and are being illegally trafficked."

Mr Clegg criticised the Government for dragging its heels over a UK Border Force which he says his party had campaigned on for years.

He said for too long British Transport Police, Revenue and Customs and other agencies had fallen over each other with "Keystone Cops incompetence" while what was needed was the Border Force so it is known both who and what is coming in and out of the country.

He spoke out after he was informed of the weekend's violent crime in Bradford which involved two shootings and how on Monday a robber was jailed for attacking an 81-year-old woman at knifepoint.

Shopkeeper Nasir Hussain, 26, suffered gunshot wounds when a masked robber fired at him during a raid at his family's store in Bankfoot and a 29-year-old woman was treated in hospital after she was hit in the back when a gunman fired through the front door of a house on the city's Canterbury estate.

Mr Clegg said youngsters he had spoken to claim to be carrying guns because they were now the "frontline victims of this crime".

He said: "You have this terrible spiral where some children are carrying them for, dare I say it, offensive reasons because they are caught up in a gang culture but others are carrying weapons for a defensive reason. We have to break that cycle."

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