Local police forces are to have the power to fine the owners of cars that produce excessive pollution and even to impound the vehicle if action isn't taken to remedy the problem (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). As part of efforts to reduce the emission of polluting gases produced by traffic, town and city councils across Catalunya will be able, through their police forces, to punish residents whose cars produce levels of exhaust above permitted levels. This is one of the measures in the Generalitat's new plan to improve air quality in the region, which will be presented next week. The regulation will also affect vans, lorries and buses, in theory from 2012, once the plan has been approved, and will be in force until 2015, while the councils will also have to incorporate it into their municipal laws. The method for identifying polluting vehicles is similar to that already used by some councils, including the Barcelona one, with vehicles that are excessively loud. Police officers will identify cars that are producing exhaust that seems to be darker than usual, they will stop them and report the owners, obliging them to resolve the problem; the vehcile will have to be checked and certified by an MOT (ITV) centre through an opacity report, whose findings on the vehicle's pollution emissions will be reported to the council within a fixed period of time. A fine will be issued if it's found that the car has indeed been producing excessive levels of pollution and the owner will have to make the necessary changes to their car to deal with it, getting an official document proving the work has been done. If they don't, then the vehicle will be impounded.
Around 20 people spent Monday night in the Barcelona public doctor's surgery (CAP) of VIa Barcino, in the district of Sant Andreu, in protest at the closure of the emergency night-time service of the centre on September 1st (read article in Catalan here, El Punt-Avui). As with similar protests that have taken place outside the Catalan capital, the protestors who shut themselves into the surgery are unhappy that the closure means that locals have to travel much further to find the nearest open CAP (in this case, the one at Cotxeres) that has night-time services. The 'sleep-in' started on Monday evening following a protest that saw locals banging pots and pans (a casserolada) in front of the Via Barcino CAP. However, once there, participants decided to go into the building's offices and shut themselves in. The management of the surgery contacted police who, after speaking to the protestors, decided to let them continue with their action.
In recent months, dozens of old people in Barcelona have been targeted by thieves who enter their homes under false pretences to rob them (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). When the elderly victims, who are deemed as easy and vulnerable targets by the criminals, open the door to the robbers, the latter pretend to be representatives from the gas company, telephone engineers, doctors or nurses from their local surgery, relatives of deceased neighbours, and so on, to gain access to the flats. Once in, there are generally two different ways used to rob the victim. The first sees the robbers continue their pretence and taking the opportunity of a distraction to be able to steal items from the flat. However, others go armed and once inside the home, take out their weapon to threaten the victim and force them to hand over money and jewellery. A spokesperson from the trade union of the Mossos d'Esquadra, Antoni Castejón, has warned that such armed attacks with firearms are becoming increasingly common.