According to Eldiario.es and The Times, two Scotland Yard police chiefs believe that the people who gathered outside the Ministry of the Economy on 20 September 2017 were a "peaceful crowd" and that claims the building was assaulted "are not supported by evidence". This is one of the conclusions in a report written by two British security experts proposed by the defence team representing one of the Catalan political prisoners, Jordi Cuixart, even though it has been rejected by Spain’s Supreme Court. On 1 October, they believe that "effective", "successful" operations took place alongside the "indiscriminate, violent and disproportionate use" of force by Spain’s National Police and the Guardia Civil. According to their estimate, some 90,000 officers would have been necessary to prevent the independence vote from going ahead.
Spanish police’s decision not to inform their Catalan counterparts of their intention to carry out searches on 20 September 2017 was "very risky"
Sir Hugh Orde and Duncan McCausland, both with over 30 years’ experience in the police, wrote that ”We have not seen any evidence of either organized, routine violence throughout the day, nor the widespread throwing of objects at the police, nor anything which caused us concern in terms of violence". They concede that a "small number of people were involved on an individual basis" in acts of theft and vandalism carried out on Spanish police vehicles [parked nearby] and that there were clashes with the Catalan police once the protest had been called off.
While recognizing that Cuixart, together with Jordi Sànchez, another jailed independence leader, were "known to and had a certain degree of control over the crowd", they remain unconvinced that their tweets and speeches "had a significant impact on the crowd’s actions", as the prosecution maintains. In addition, they point out that in their speeches the two grassroots leaders insisted that the protest remained "peaceful" and that anyone acting violently "ought to be isolated from the group".
The report goes on to say that throughout the day, the ministry’s security cameras failed to record "any evidence of unrest or resistance with respect to any Guardia Civil or Mosso d'Esquadra officer". In addition, they add that the number of officers would have been insufficient to prevent an assault on the building. They also find it "hard to understand" and "very risky" that the Spanish police failed to inform their Catalan counterpart of their intention to carry out searches on 20 September 2017.
The report also stresses the fact that the atmosphere within the ministry was "calm throughout the whole day", and that the search was conducted "without interference from the growing crowd outside". According to the two police chiefs, footage from multiple cameras show that people entered and left the building without incident, and that the individuals protesting "made no attempt to enter the lobby or interfere with the police", thus contradicting the Spanish police’s report, which speaks of protesters attempting to break down the door to the ministry.
As for the vehicles belonging to the Spanish police, they fail to understand "why the operation necessitated leaving the vehicles unattended", and believe that they could have been parked without being accessible to the crowd.
"Lack of clear orders" from the Spanish police high command during the referendum on 1 October 2017
With regard to 1 October 2017, the day on which the Catalan referendum on self-determination was held, the experts analysed more than 200 videos showing police operations at fifty polling stations, provided by both the prosecution and the defence. They define the voters’ attitude as a whole in terms of "passive resistance" and "without recourse to violence". With reference to the Spanish police’s departure from Sant Carles de la Ràpita, however, they confirm that the protesters threw stones and attacked the police vehicles.
Speaking of the behaviour of the two Spanish police forces —the National Police and the Guardia Civil—, they believe they carried out both "effective" actions but with a "indiscriminate, violent and disproportionate use" of force, adding that this was due to "the lack of clear orders" from the police high command.