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?

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, 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.”

Read more >>> Freedom Friday: My insightful night on the beat with Essex police officers

Gazette: Fleet - The Clacton Policing Team's police cars, pictured after officers reponded to reports of cuckooing in Jaywick

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.”

Although the town centre did not throw up much trouble, 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.

Gazette: Assistance - PC James Stockley and SC Zoe Walker help fellow officers PC Sam Harris and SC Jaye Jacobs in responding to reports of cuckooing

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.”

After jumping into a police car with PC Harris and SC Jaye Jacobs, 26, 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 responded.

One punter involved in the brawl said: “Someone pulled my hair out and punched me.

“They got kicked out but came back and it just all went manic.

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

After attending the scene PC Matt Hall, 27, said he expects there to be more incidents during nights out now restrictions have lifted. He said: “It’s not been too bad through the lockdowns, but it’s definitely going to get worse, or at least back to ‘normal’.”