Almost 20 years ago, I received two convictions; one for criminal damage and one for carrying an offensive weapon in a public place. This sounds absolutely terrible but, if I explain, you might get a better understanding of what happened.
For about a year prior to my convictions, I’d been experiencing some extreme mood swings. Some days I’d be pretty depressed and feel really pessimistic about everything and other days I’d be full of energy and great ideas. I didn’t know it at the time but I was suffering from bipolar.
Sadly, another symptom of my condition was that whilst I was in a manic phase, I would become easily irritated and agitated although I’d remember very little about this when I was ‘normal’.
On the day of my conviction, I had a bit of an argument with a guy in a car park who I thought had tried to run me over (on reflection, I think I’d probably just walked in front of him whilst he was concentrating on parking his car). There was a bit of ‘banter’, I kicked his car and the police were called. Not knowing when to keep quiet, I continued to argue with the police officer who decided that the only way to shut me up was to take me down to the police station.
When we arrived at the station I was asked by the Desk Sergeant if I had anything on me that I shouldn’t, and I handed over a small knife which I had in my pocket (I can’t remember why I had it) – bang – two convictions.
Despite receiving the convictions, some good did come out of this as I was diagnosed with bipolar and started on medication to control my condition.
My bipolar is now well under-control and I’ve never been in trouble since. I now run my own business and I’m married with two beautiful boys. Both my kids are really active and involved in all sorts of clubs and groups and, like many fathers, I’ve also become involved in some of these.
About a year ago, I was asked by the kid’s Scout group if I’d consider becoming a Scout Leader. I didn’t give an answer straight away, just told the guy that I’d give it some thought and would let him know. Over the next couple of weeks I read all I could about the process and found out that despite my convictions being very old, they would not be eligible for filtering because I had more than one.
I’d pretty much decided not to go ahead when I saw the Scout Leader again and he asked me where my application form was. I can’t tell you what made me do it but I sat down with him and told him everything. He told me that I shouldn’t let it bother me – it was years ago, I’d been ill at the time and I was now a completely different bloke. So, fuelled by his positivity, I filled in all the forms and sent them off.
Weeks later my DBS certificate dropped through the letterbox and I opened it with some trepidation. I was so upset when I read it. I knew what I’d done but seeing it in writing was hard. I toyed with the idea of withdrawing my application so that I didn’t have to had it over but luckily I listened to my wife who told me that as I’d already had a conversation with the Scout Leader about it, it didn’t really matter.
So with that in mind, I handed over the certificate. There were a couple more conversations about my past with members of the Scout Association but ultimately, I was approved and I’ve been volunteering for about six months now.
However long ago it was, facing up to your past is never great but if you do, you can reap fantastic rewards.
By Taylor (name changed to protect identity)