Campaigners are calling for Community Protection Notices (CPNs) to be scrapped or seriously modified, saying they have resulted in serious injustice.
The Manifesto Group which campaigns against what it sees as over-regulation in public life, says the notices give some council officers the power to act as 'prosecutor, judge and jury in relation to the conduct of private citizens'.
The CPN, introduced five years ago, is a written notice banning an individual from doing anything an authority believes to have a ‘detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality’.
The group says CPNs have been used to impose 'highly unreasonable' restrictions on individuals.
Councils have used them to prevent begging or sitting on pavements. In some cases, people have been told to tidy up their garden or that they must not keep chickens, while others have been issued with legal orders preventing them from swearing or shouting.
Figures show 192 councils used the powers last year to issue more than 6,000 notices. Since they were introduced in 2014, more than 20,000 have been issued.
A statement by the Manifesto Group said: 'Until changes are made, CPNs will remain a "cowboy" area of criminal justice, with many orders issued unfairly or for trivial incidents, imposing unreasonable restrictions on people going about their daily lives.'