“I CAN feel it – I’ve got blood on my face.”

A woman in her late teens is trying to tell Pc Katie Knapton that she has been injured.

“That’s not blood – it’s mayonnaise,” replies Pc Knapton, wearily.

It’s about 1.30am on Sunday morning and I’ve been invited to go out with Huddersfield South Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) to see first-hand what it’s like dealing with issues in Huddersfield town centre.

The woman who has approached Pc Knapton has plainly enjoyed a few drinks and has possibly imagined the facial wound she claims to have suffered.

Virtually every one of the thousands of people who are out and about at this time of night have had a drink. Most are in high spirits. Some have gone well past the point of enjoying themselves.

Seconds after the ‘mayonnaise’ incident, a young man is handcuffed and hauled into the van I’m sitting in.

He has been spotted urinating in a doorway outside the Kingsgate Shopping Centre and when asked by police to stop, he became aggressive.

Going to the toilet in public may seem like a minor matter, but, as Insp Adrian Waugh, who is in charge of the NPT, says: “Would you like it if we came round to your house and urinated on your front door?”

Being out with the police, it doesn’t take long to realise that virtually every incident they deal with on a night like this is alcohol related.

Earlier, on a monitor in Insp Waugh’s office at Huddersfield Police Station, I watched live CCTV footage of a man having an altercation with a friend at Zetland Street.

Punches were thrown before one of them ran off. Police tracked him down and gave him a direction to leave the town centre. If he returned within 24 hours he would be arrested.

The dispute had erupted after a group of mates had been out drinking all afternoon. It was only 9.30pm.

At 10pm, the town centre team is briefed by Sgt Nicky Brown on their duties for the night, under what is called Operation Embrace.

The operation’s primary objective is for police to intervene early in potential problems and to use a co-ordinated approach with other agencies – licencees, street angels, paramedics, door staff – to keep people safe.

Sgt Brown tells the team that there has been a 33% drop in nightlife-related violent crime in the town centre in the last five months. Of the 27 offences recorded in August, nine were at Cross Church Street – the epicentre for problems on nights out.

After donning my stab vest and being told what to do if for any reason I get CS gas in my eyes, I accompany Insp Waugh and Pcs Mark Coulson, a bobby of nine years’ experience, and Dave Horridge, who has been with the force for six weeks, to Cross Church Street.

There are hundreds of people on the street but the atmosphere is good-natured.

Our first job is outside BHS, at The Shambles, as a call comes over the radio from Pc Lisa Harley: “There’s a man with his shirt off doing press-ups.”

Sure enough, when we arrive, the topless man is being spoken to by officers after a bizarre demonstration of athleticism.

“He is arrested for being drunk and disorderly, but it is then discovered that he is a failed asylum seeker awaiting deportation to his native Zimbabwe.

“He is taken to the police cells to be processed.”

The next stop is at nearby Victoria Lane, where a group of women dressed in builders’ tabards and hard hats has come to blows with another group of women.

Police manage to intervene without making any arrests and the group disperses.

At about 12.20am, one of the officers spots a wanted offender out on Cross Church Street. He has been avoiding bail and is wanted in connection with a burglary.

“His record’s as long as your arm,” Insp Waugh tells me after the young man is arrested. “It’s a good arrest is that.”

From that point on in the night things get increasingly busy.

A woman has to be restrained outside Zephyr bar at King Street. She is in tears and acting aggressively, although the reason for her distress is unclear.

Next, a man thrown out of Rouge hasn’t taken his ejection kindly. He attempts to get back in and has to be held by Pc Chris Simpson.

After verbally abusing the experienced bobby, the evictee makes the mistake of spitting on him.

Police move in to assist and the man is forced to the ground, handcuffed and arrested for assaulting a police officer. He is still shouting four-letter abuse as he is dragged into the waiting police van.

A young woman then approaches the open window of the van to tell Insp Waugh that her boyfriend has been assaulted by “15 well-built men”.

The boyfriend’s T-shirt is stained with blood, but he says he doesn’t want to press charges.

By 2am, the number of people in the cells at Huddersfield has risen from six to about 16.

Insp Waugh says: “It has been a typical night.

“We try to get in early and deal with people before they can become violent and cause real problems.

“Nobody that we have dealt with has been sober, and that’s why alcohol-fuelled disorder is such a big issue.”