Spain's interior ministry has started reinforcing its police forces in Catalonia with the staggered deployment of around 600 officers from the National Police riot squad. The move comes a week before the Diada, Catalonia's national day, and following the announcement of pro-independence demonstrations this autumn.
Police sources say between 10 and 12 groups of 50 officers each are coming from different places around Spain. Their mission is to guard public buildings and support the Mossos d'Esquadra, the Catalan police, with public safety.
The transfer of these officers started this week; some from Galicia have already arrived, staying in Barcelona's Bruc barracks. Others will join them in the coming days to reinforce the 100 officers from the two units of riot police permanently stationed in Catalonia.
According to the sources, the reinforcements were requested days ago by the Catalan High Prefecture of Police and it's normal to deploy extra riot officers ahead of the Diada celebrations. Just yesterday, the Spanish interior ministry suspended the departures from Catalonia of some 300 Civil Guard officers who had applied for transfers.
The order, published in the Civil Guard's Official Gazette, says that "due to the needs and demands inherent in guaranteeing public safety during this quarter of the year, [all officers] are required to remain in their current stations until 15th October".
The officers in question will thus remain in Catalonia for the next few weeks, until after the first anniversary of the independence referendum on 1st October.