Local authorities have been accused of making up their own laws and invading people’s privacy through the use of Community Protection Notices (CPNs), by the Manifesto Club.
The campaign group found councils used issued nearly 4,000 CPNs in a year, banning individuals from doing certain things or requiring certain activities. This includes making it a criminal offence to argue in the home, targeting rough sleeping or forcing someone to tidy their garden.
The Manifesto Club said CPNs could be used by councils to impose ‘unreasonable restrictions upon law-abiding members of the public’.
Josie Appleton, convenor of the Manifesto Club, said: ‘Councils have dramatically differing levels of CPNs, according to the policies of their community safety or environmental health departments. For example, Newham Council has issued 1,486 CPNs, while comparable London boroughs have issued only a handful or none at all.
‘As a result, there is no consistent point at which a CPN intervention will be triggered. An overgrown garden would be a crime in one borough but not in another.’
The research showed that four councils issued notices for feeding birds in gardens, three for busking, and 18 for messy gardens. Five councils also issued CPNs to help solve neighbourhood disputes.
Ms Appleton added: ‘We urge councils to publicise their use of CPNs, so these can be subject to local public debate and discussion – and for individuals who have been affected by CPNs to come forward. It is our view that the Home Office should investigate and record how these powers are being used, and consider whether they should not be more significantly restricted.’