The use of anti-social behaviour orders, or Asbos, by courts in England and Wales needs to be reviewed, the probation officers' union says.
Asbos target drunkenness, violence and intimidation
Beggars and prostitutes have been jailed for breaching orders though they could not be imprisoned for their original offence, Napo claimed.
It also said the use of Asbos varied widely between parts of the country.
Courts in Greater Manchester, for example, were five times more likely to issue an Asbo than on Merseyside.
Napo's report said the scheme was being "abused" and that the issuing of an Asbo almost came down to a "geographical lottery".
Asbos were introduced in 1999 as a way of allowing police and local authorities to use civil procedures to curb anti-social activity.
They are usually issued to stop a person from behaving as a nuisance or going to a certain place, generally targeting those who have made life difficult for neighbours or others through theft, intimidation, drunkenness or violence.
But they have also been issued for some more unusual reasons, including stopping people wearing headgear, knocking on any door in Britain or howling like a werewolf.
Breaching an order can result in arrest and can be punished by a prison term of up to five years.
The Home Office said criminal sanctions were a "powerful deterrent" to those subject to an order.
It said fewer than a third of Asbos were breached.