Residents guilty of minor offences are being targeted by an order originally brought in by then Home Secretary Theresa May to clamp down on serious antisocial behaviour.
But an investigation by Mail Online reveals some councils are using the Community Protection Notice to target householders for petty misdemeanours such as feeding birds or listening to the radio loudly.
Since it was introduced in 2014 breaching a CPN is a criminal offence and can result in a court appearance and fine of up to £2,500.
One victim was grandmother Rose Rodell, who was told she would risk a criminal record if she continued to feed pigeons in her pwn council house garden – and anywhere else in the seaside town of Sidmouth in Devon.
The grandma of four eventually came to an agreement with the council to restrict her activities.
“I felt sick and sad when they told me I couldn’t feed the birds,” said the 72-year-old.
“I’m not a horrible person or a criminal. I just felt sad for the birds that relied on me.”
Campaigners have reacted angrily to the “nannying agenda” of councils slapping fines on misdemeanours such as slamming doors and feeding cats.
“This is officialdom gone mad,” said Rory Broomfield of the Freedom Association, a libertarian pressure group.
“Councils should concentrate on delivering services to their residents rather than looking to crack down on the everyday activities of ordinary people.”
The data from 190 local councils show that at least 29 people in England and Wales in the past four years were told they risked a criminal prosecution for feeding birds – many in their own gardens.
And almost 300 more received letters warning of fines and court action for putting their wheelie bins in the wrong spot for collecting or putting rubbish in the wrong container.
Simon Blackburn, of the Local Government Association, defended the use of CPNs.
“Councils will only ever use these tools to address issues that are having a clear detrimental impact and which residents have raised concerns about,” he said.
“Crime and anti-social behaviour varies from place to place and that is why councils, who know their areas best, are responding in different ways using different tools and approaches.”
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