Charities and civil liberty groups have condemned a court decision to ban a beggar from Manchester city centre.
Some people find homeless beggars intimidating
Leonard Hockey, 51, of Salford, faces up to two years in jail if found begging in the city, where he has been arrested 97 times before.
Other councils, such as Westminster City Council, are considering using similar injunctions to tackle the problem.
But charities and campaigners say the threat to lock beggars up is not the the way to deal with the problem.
They claim it will cost taxpayers more money, increase homelessness and drive beggars further away from the support they need.
Homeless charity Shelter said it fears a trend emerging towards criminalising people who live on the street.
A spokesman told BBC News Online: "This is a worrying signal of moves by local authorities to blame and penalise beggars.
"This is punishment, rather than investing enough in services to ensure people have another option - such as the drug treatment many of them are desperate for."
He said imprisonment would increase the problem because a third of prisoners lose their
accommodation while they serve their sentence.
Barry Hugill, spokesman for human rights group Liberty, also condemned the move.
He said: "Leonard Hockey is a beggar whose only crime has been to ask people for
"He is not violent, nor he is abusive and poses a risk to absolutely no
"It is every citizen's right to refuse to give him money if they so wish and
there is absolutely no need for this draconian action.
"If he begs in Manchester again, he will be jailed, at enormous cost to the
taxpayer and there can be no justification for that.
"Begging is an unpleasant aspect of modern society but anyone who believes
that imposing jail sentences on beggars will solve the problem is living in
cloud cuckoo land."
Shaks Ghosh, chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, said: "Leonard Hockey's 97 arrests represent 97 opportunities for intervention and 97 failures."
A Crisis spokesman told BBC News Online: "Begging is a humiliating and damaging experience - not done out of choice."
Nick Harris of drug, alcohol and mental health charity Turning Point, told BBC News 24 that treatment is crucial in weaning people off drugs.
"That's got to be part of the solution, not just criminalisation on its own."
'Begging funds drugs'
But Basil Curley, Manchester City Council's executive member for
housing, said: "This sends the right message to people begging in the
"These people are not hungry or homeless. Over 90% of profits from
begging goes to fund a drug habit.
"In Mr Hockey's case this was used as a last resort. He has had 97
Shelter's advice to people who fear money donated to beggars will be spent on drugs is to give it to a homeless charity.