by Christopher Stacey
It’s not often that I talk (or write) about myself when it comes to my job. Or at least not so publically. But early March was certainly the exception that. Without over-exaggerating, it could probably be regarded as the biggest week of my life so far.
Why? Firstly, perhaps, the obvious one to regular readers. On the 10th March, my convictions became spent as a result of the changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.
Secondly, and more personally, I proposed to my long-term girlfriend. It’s a strange and slightly coincidental set of circumstances, which I couldn’t resist writing out.
I met Emily (my now Fiancé) for the first time about two weeks before I was due to go to court back in 2006. We only really met fleetingly, and it wasn’t until after I was convicted that we got talking. I managed to put ‘the date’ off until I’d completed my curfew (a tag is not the number one piece of clothing most people want to wear on a first date), and our first proper get-together was on the night that my tag came off when we went out with friends.
Right from the beginning, she knew about my conviction, as we’d be introduced through a close friend who’d been supporting me through that period, so I never really had to have that ‘difficult’ conversation that a lot of people have to have. This made a big difference to me though – I knew that she knew, and that she was okay with it.
Skipping forward 7 years, I’d been thinking for quite some time about ‘popping the question’. We’d got to that stage in life where it felt about right. So, over Christmas, I decided I’d set myself a date to work towards. I went with Friday 14th March.
So, imagine my surprise when, after waiting nearly 2 years for the Government to announce a date for when the changes would come in, they happen to bring them in on the 10th March. A bizarre twist of fate!
I must admit, the feeling was quite strange when I got the news that it would finally happen. We’ve campaigned for years, and after the changes received Royal Assent in 2012, I never signed up to some of the cynics who thought that the Government were trying to avoid bringing the changes in. But I’m not sure that I’d fully thought through how I’d feel on the day itself.
Some of these feelings had to be set aside though, as I found myself sat on the BBC Breakfast sofa at 8.15 on the morning of the change to the law. It’s strange going on national TV to talk about your convictions on the day that you’re legally allowed to withhold them!
As for the proposal, the 14th March felt all the more appropriate. And I’m pleased to say she said “yes”!