On Tuesday evening, Josep Lluis Trapero, the chief of the Catalan regional police force, the Mossos, issued an internal memo to all of his officers regarding the new independence referendum, the illegality of which the Public Prosecutor's office described on Tuesday as "beyond all doubt".

Major Trapero, along with the senior Civil Guard and National Police officers in the region, had been given 24 hours to make sure all of his officers were aware of the prosecutor's policing instructions to stop the referendum.

The internal document contains four paragraphs and complies with that instruction in a strict sense, but falls short of issuing a direct order from Trapero to the Mossos to investigate and detain the organisation and preparation of the vote.

Pressed by The Spain Report on Wednesday morning, a spokeswoman for the Mossos refused to comment further on the document or offer any comment on how the words it contains might be interpreted by officers: "We are not going to make any statement about that".

The first paragraph notes the existence of the public prosecutor's instructions; the second the police chief's duty to pass those instructions on to all of the officers under his command; and the third "makes reference" to the policing plan to stop the referendum.

The fourth and final paragraph, slightly longer, says any Mossos activities related to the prosecutor's instructions should be coordinated by the force's General Information Command, which normally deals with intelligence on organised crime.

The instructions from the public prosecutor's office on Tuesday said police must now "urgently" prepare reports and statements on any activities they suspect of being related to the referendum, "urgently" inform the public prosecutor's office of the activities, "immediately" collect evidence of the crimes, and seize materials or instruments being used to prepare referendum materials or organise the vote.

Any public servant or citizen aiding in the preparation of that illegal vote will now be liable to criminal investigation for contempt of court, abuse of authority and misuse of public funds.

Yesterday, Catalan government spokesman Jordi Turull said the regional administration's "absolute" policing priority is terrorism, not stopping the referendum: "The fight against terrorism is the priority when it comes to mobilising Catalan and European police officers."

Last night, the Mossos cordoned off the area around the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona for a couple of hours while bomb disposal teams examined a suspicious van. It was a false alarm. No one was arrested.