Police boost security in Catalonia as more protests loom

Police upped security Wednesday in front of government buildings in Catalonia and provided special protection for several political leaders, judges and prosecutors as further pro-independence protests loom, authorities said.

Police boost security in Catalonia as more protests loom
Photo: AFP

Separatist activists have in the past weeks taken advantage of the void left by a renewed crackdown on the restive region's independence movement to step up their protests by blocking roads and clashing with police, raising fears of radicalisation.

“From today (Wednesday) we are implementing a new plan to guarantee security and public order with regards to the various scenarios that could take place in Catalonia,” a spokeswoman for the Mossos d'Esquadra, Catalonia's police force, told AFP, without giving further details.

Enric Millo, the central government's representative in Catalonia, added that “security measures have been increased for people and public equipment that have been targeted by protests, graffiti or assaults recently”.

The central government's representative office said security would be upped particularly in front of its buildings in Catalonia, as well as European institutions.

Several political leaders, judges and prosecutors will also be given special protection, it added, without saying who.   

Judge Pablo Llarena of the Supreme Court, who is in charge of proceedings against separatist leaders, is already under protection after having received threats, the interior ministry has said.

Millo said these measures were implemented due to “an increase in belligerence” in the past weeks as separatists have protested against the jailing of more pro-independence leaders in Spain and the detention of former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont in Germany.

READ ALSO: German prosecutors apply for Puigdemont to be deported to Spain

A sign outside a German court ahead of Puigdemont's extradition hearing. Photo: AFP

Puigdemont faces extradition to Spain after a failed bid to secede last October that saw Madrid take Catalonia's autonomy away and impose direct rule.    

The protests were called by the Committees for the Defence of the Republic, groups of pro-independence activists spread out across the region.    

In Barcelona, some protesters tried to occupy the central government's representative office, heavily guarded by police, on several occasions at the end of March, leaving more than 100 people injured.

In a joint statement last week, these groups said “the Catalan spring” had “erupted,” in reference to a series of protests which began in Arab nations in 2011.


Spain’s Civil Guard police officers allowed to have visible tattoos

Spain on Monday relaxed its policy banning officers from the country's oldest police force, the Guardia Civil, from exhibiting tattoos.

civil guard spain gun
The increasing popularity of tattoos has led police forces around the world to regulate their use. Photo: Rafa Rivas/AFP

Officers will now be allowed to display tattoos anywhere on their bodies “as long as they do not contain expressions that violate constitutional values or harm the discipline or image of the force,” the interior minister said in a statement.

“For the first time visible tattoos will be allowed on uniformed officers,” it added.

On the other hand, the decree prohibits hoop earrings, spikes, plugs and other inserts when they are visible in uniform, “except regular earrings, for both male and female personnel”.

The Guardia Civil mainly patrols and investigates crimes in rural areas, while Spain’s National Police focuses on urban areas.

Last year Spain’s leftist government appointed a woman to head the force for the first time in its 177-year history.

The increasing popularity of tattoos has led police forces around the world to regulate their use.

Los Angeles police are required to ensure that tattoos are not visible to the public while on-duty, while France’s Gendarmes police force also requires that they be covered.