SPANISH National Police (CNP) officers and civilian personnel who were involved in the operation to halt the 2017 Catalan independence referendum received bonuses of €21 million (£18.7m) according to a leaked report.

The Madrid government despatched a total of 6000 officers to Catalonia, with many billeted in three ships in Tarragona and the Catalan capital Barcelona before, during and after the poll. Direct rule was imposed by the Spanish executive under then prime minister Mariano Rajoy.

Renting the three boats cost a total of €26.5m (£23.7m). One of the most iconic, the Moby Dada ferry, or Tweety boat because of the Looney Tunes characters painted on its side, cost the public purse a fifth of that.

In an operation described as a “state secret”, but widely known as Copernicus, people around the world were shocked as videos and images were shared on social media showing officers beating defenceless people with riot batons, shields and their gloved fists as they tried to cast a vote on October 1.

The figure for bonus awards is included in the €87m (£77.9m) total that Spain’s congress was previously given by the then interior minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido, as the entire cost of containing Catalonia.

The bonuses have since become part of the recipients’ regular pay.

A breakdown of the costs was detailed in a 464-page “private and confidential” report by business group Ernst & Young, a copy of which was given to MP Jon Iñarritu, of EH Bildu – the left-wing, pro-independence, Basque nationalist coalition.

Many of those involved in the operation also received medals or other awards, including a number of police officers who are currently under investigation in Catalonia for excessive use of force during the referendum.

Montse Bassa, a member of congress for the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), yesterday criticised the Spanish government for rewarding police officers for using violence.

She said that while there were democrats in prison – a reference to Catalonia’s political prisoners – the executive was decorating “violent fascists in uniform”.

The independence movement was, said Bassa, “proud of pacifism”, while the Spanish government had shown it was “proud of violence”.

However, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, Spain’s interior minister, said: “What has been granted is for personal merits and for specific facts and surely they have been appropriate.”

He urged Bassa to look to the future and said the events in question had happened two years ago, in another legislature with another government.

The police officers’ premium pay award did not go down well in Catalonia.

A Catalan government source told The National: “We believe that in a democracy it is an abominable act to pay an official prize or bonus to policemen as a reward for aggressively beating peaceful Catalan citizens exercising their right to vote on their future.”