More than 100 councils have used new powers to curb a range of anti-social behaviour – from begging to swearing – in a 16-month time period, according to a new report.
The report by the think tank Manifesto Club, claimed 107 local authorities issued a total of 189 public spaces protection orders (PSPO) between March 2016 and June 2017.
According to the report, 152 local authorities now have a PSPO in place, which means 44% of councils have used the power since it was first introduced in October 2014.
The report claimed 19 councils have begged or restricted begging, including Coventry, Southampton and Wigan.
In addition, 18 councils have banned loitering or standing in groups and four have criminalised busking.
It also states 11 councils have restricted cycling or skateboarding in public spaces or streets and 30 local authorities have restricted dog walking in the past 16 month.
‘These powers take the criminal law into the domain of taste or annoyance, rather than significant public nuisance or harm,’ said report author, Josie Appleton.
‘PSPOs also allow councils to create absurdly catch-all crimes, such as the crime of standing in a group, which means that council officials and police officers have the power to fine or disperse pretty much anyone they want to.
‘These orders undermine cornerstone legal principles, as well as everyday freedoms in public spaces.’