THE first Friday night of freedom since the lifting of restrictions was always going to be preconceived as a bubbling cauldron, capable of boiling over at any moment.

With the lockdown leash loosened, following 16 claustrophobic months, punters wanting to let off a little steam was to be expected – and who can blame them?

After all, for a year and a bit we have all been trapped in a dystopian-esque and unintelligible existence, peppered with stringent, but necessary measures.

The free-spirited rebels in us would never have previously agreed to not cuddle a loved one or dance in a bar, but for the greater good, we did.

On Friday, however, people were finally able let their hair down and even order a pint without having to order on an app from their table.

But what was the first proper night out since Freedom Day really like?


In truth, at least during the insightful few hours I spent with the Clacton Policing Team, it was actually quite mellow.

“I know restrictions have ended now but I think people are still worried about going out and are being a cautious,” said PC Sam Harris, 32.

“I probably prefer it to be a little less busy, as it means we are able to get out and do some proactive stuff, such as pull over cars or target intelligence we have.

“The thing is, any night of the week can be busy now and one serious incident can wipe out most of the officers in Clacton.”

PC Harris' partner for the evening, SC Jaye Jacobs, 26, said she liked the variety of the role.

She said: "I volunteer, so I do like to see the exciting stuff, but I also like to see all different aspects of policing because it is not just always ‘let’s go on blue lights’.

“You can go to one incident and it can tie you up for a while, it is not like you are jumping from one to another.

“You learn as you go sometimes, so it is then nice to go at a slower pace, and you pick up different things and get more confident in talking to people."

Although the town centre did not throw up much trouble while I was with the officers, there were of course several other incidents officers had to respond to.

During my time with PC James Stockley, 34, and SC Zoe Walker, 26, we were called to reports a car window had been smashed with a brick, before a handbag was stolen from inside.

Speaking about the likelihood of extracting DNA from the targeted vehicle, PC Stockley said: “For your higher end sort of jobs you will have officers go to town and do everything they can to collect DNA from the scene.

“With this theft, it’s not something we are going to be able do fingerprints on."


We also attended a property in Jaywick to check on a resident's wellbeing.

Anonymous reports communicated to the police had suggested a woman had fallen victim to cuckooing.

The criminal offence sees people take over a vulnerable person's home and use the property to facilitate exploitation.

PC Harris and SC Jacobs, initially attended the scene, before PC Stockley and SC Nicole Walker  arrived to offer assistance.

Despite the officers' concerns, the tenant reassured them she was fine and after taking her details they left the area.

PC Stockley added: “From their point of view they are just mother and son and there is nothing wrong and they are happily living there.

“From our perspective, at the doorstop, if we do not have any concerns or obvious concerns, then we are limited in terms of powers of entry to check it out.

"If they don’t allow us in then we cannot just barge in and have a look around.

“We have to judge it when we are talking to them, and see if they are nervous or seem scared or under pressure, then that raises our suspicions.”

Gazette: PC Sam Harris and SC Jaye JacobsPC Sam Harris and SC Jaye Jacobs

After jumping into a police car with PC Harris and SC Jacobs, we headed to reports of youngsters - one of which was said to be wearing a balaclava - riding mopeds on a field.

Then, after a food break back at the station, reports of a pub fight filtered through the radio, to which two teams, including myself, responded.

Speaking anonymously, one punter involved in the reported brawl said: “I had my hair pulled out and someone punched me.

“They eventually got kicked out but then they came back and then the next thing you know it just all went manic.

“I don’t think it’s because it’s the first Friday out, because these people have been probably drinking since the start of lockdown and the whole way through.”


After responding to the incident PC Matt Hall, 27, said he expects there to be more incidents during nights out now restrictions have lifted.

He said: "With this incident, the first port of call is always the victim and to assess the injury level.

"Then it was a case of establishing if any suspects or witnesses were still there and if there was any CCTV.

“If we had got there and everyone was still fighting then we would make sure everyone is separated.

“It’s not been too bad through the lockdowns, but it is definitely going to get worse - or if not worse, at least back to ‘normal’.”