Police community support officers in the West Midlands claim they are being hamstrung from doing their job because of their limited powers.
The region's PCSOs are granted just 19 powers by the West Midlands Chief Constable, Paul Scott-Lee, out of a total of 56 allowed by the Home Office.
Five forces, including Greater Manchester Police, grant their PCSOs every power available – which range from issuing fixed penalties for litter to throwing fireworks and damaging property – and ten forces grant them more than 50.
Birmingham City Council has passed a resolution calling on Mr Scott-Lee to consider granting his PCSOs more powers, while a union official called for uniformity across the country.
There are 500 PCSOs in the West Midlands but the force hopes to boost that by May to 750.
West Midlands Police said the support officers will provide public reassurance, deal with anti-social behaviour and free up regular police from minor incidents.
But Councillor Deirdre Alden (Con Edgbaston) said some PCSOs believed it was impossible to perform that role because they lacked some of the powers granted to their counterparts in other regions.
While they can issue fixed penalty notices for littering and dog fouling, they have to wait for a police officer to turn up to issue one for graffiti or flyposting.
And when trying to deal with offences for which they are allowed to demand names and addresses or issue fixed penalty notices, there is nothing they can do if the suspect refuses and walks away because, unlike 19 other forces, they lack the power to detain until a police officer arrives.
"A PCSO in the Edgbaston constituency told me that they now get abuse from some of the punters, who know there is little they can do about it," said Coun Alden. "Tellingly, a PCSO said to me 'We have powers, but we don't have the power to use those powers. As the years have gone on, people – especially the local trouble-makers – have begun to realise it.
"How does it free up the police if they have to come along to issue a fixed penalty fine for littering?"
Annette Mansell-Green, Unison branch secretary for West Midlands Police staff, said the union wanted a more consistent approach across police force areas.
She said there was was provision in the Police Justice Act of 2005 for the Home Secretary take PCSO powers out of the hands of chief constables.
"We would prefer to see all forces giving the same powers to PCSOs across the country," she said. "There are some anomalies there we are trying to iron out and we know some of our members are frustrated by them."
A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police said: "They perform many jobs and functions such as dealing with anti-social behaviour, under-age drinking and abandoned vehicles.
"This work helps to free up highly trained police officers to work on other policing priorities. They already have the power to issue fixed penalty tickets for minor offences and anti-social behaviour, but more importantly are able to help the neighbourhood policing teams identify and resolve residents' concerns."
What West Midlands PCSOs can do
* require name and address (including for anti-social behaviour)
* issue fixed penalties for littering, dog fouling and cycling on a footpath
* stop a pedal cycle
* search for alcohol
* confiscate alcohol
* seize a vehicle used to cause alarm
* direct traffic
What West Midlands PCSOs can't do
* enforce by-laws
* issue fixed penalties for graffiti or fly-posting or truancy
* disperse groups and remove people under 16 to their place of residence
* n photograph away from police premises
* place traffic signs; require names and addresses for traffic offences
* issue fixed penalties for use of electronic equipment to cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety
* issue fixed penalties people causing harassment, alarm or distress