Braintree Council used ASBO-style orders aimed at tackling nuisance behaviour on just two occasions last year, figures reveal.

The council issued two Community Protection Notices in the year to October last year, according to Freedom of Information requests submitted by the campaign group the Manifesto Club.

The orders can place legal restrictions on people whose behaviour is deemed to have a “detrimental” effect on a community’s quality of life.

The council said the CPNs were given out for reasons including anti-social behaviour, having an untidy garden, and driving across green spaces.

Across England and Wales, 8,760 CPNs were issued by 202 councils in the year to October – the highest number recorded by the civil liberties group and up from 6,234 by 192 councils the previous year.

Director of the Manifesto Club Josie Appleton said the test for what constitutes detrimental behaviour was “unprecedentedly low” for criminal intervention, and that the powers were hard to appeal.

She added: “These blank-cheque busybody powers are the cause of immense injustice, and a fundamental threat to our freedoms. They should be removed from the statute book.”

The use of the powers was very unevenly spread between areas – while Nottingham City Council issued the most CPNS of those that provided figures (1,464), more than 80 said they hadn’t used them at all.

The notices and Public Spaces Protection Orders, which can be used to ban activities, were introduced by the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

The Home Office issued fresh guidance on their use in 2017, saying particular care should be taken with the use of CPNs on “vulnerable members of society”.

But Ms Appleton said 31 councils had used them to target the homeless.

The Local Government Association defended their use as “one of a number of ways councils can tackle persistent anti-social behaviour problems raised by local communities”.

Nesil Caliskan, chairman of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board, said: “PSPOs and CPNs will not be suitable or effective in all circumstances, and councils will consider other approaches which may better resolve the anti-social behaviour identified.

“As with other council services, PSPOs are subject to scrutiny by democratically elected councillors, and councils must consult with community representatives under the legislation, along with the police before implementing them.”