An internal order in Irún's Immigration and Border Brigade, northern Spain, granted up to five days off to officers who made 10 arrests.
Immigration police in Spain have been given extra days off if they catch migrants on the border with France.
The order was given by the Immigration and Border Brigade in the Basque town of Irún, northern Spain.
The police chief there would reward his officers with days off based on the number of people they managed to detain.
"From 1 July 2023, depending on the number of weekend detainees, the following compensation days will be granted," the issued order stated.
If officers didn’t arrest anyone during the weekend, the ordinary two days off would be granted. If they arrested one person, they would get three days off. Two arrests would be equivalent to four days and, those who reached ten arrests, could have up to five days off.
"The order was reported by the Irún brigade police members," Pablo Pérez, national spokesperson for the Police Justice union (Jupol), Spain's main police union, told Euronews.
The document was subsequently reported on social media by Jupol and the scheme was cancelled without delay.
According to Spanish media, the order had been rescinded as soon as senior officers were aware of it, and a disciplinary investigation had been launched.
"It is a way of exerting pressure on officers so that they will detain more people. The aim is to have better statistics. This police force is constantly measuring its performance based on statistics. This is the biggest problem they have," adds Pérez.
The spokesperson points out that this numbers-based policing model has become completely obsolete.
Regional authorities have also criticised the order and the way the police model works.
In a press conference, the delegate of the Government in the Basque Country, Denin Itxaso, stated that the order of the National Police command in Irún was "an absurd mistake" that "has been stopped in time".
The delegate explained that the chief inspector who signed the controversial order had recently joined the police station and described his behaviour as "absurd".
"In the 21st century, the performance of the police and its effectiveness does not depend on the number of arrests," he added.
The police union suggests that the command may have come from higher up.
"The only time something similar happened was in 2019, in the same police unit. We believe that the person responsible for the order is the head of immigration, as he is the same person who was there when a very similar order was issued in 2019," says the Jupol spokesperson.
NGOs are very concerned and have pointed out that police are being rewarded for "hunting the immigrants".
Irún and the area near the river Bidasoa, bordering France, is a transit area for illegal immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa. Their aim is to cross to France and then move on to other EU countries.
According to the Spanish newspaper El País, at least nine people have died, six drowned and three hit by a train, in the attempt to cross the Spanish-French border since 2021.