This may be one of most parents' biggest nightmare. Having been a police officer in London for ten years, let's just say, I know a lot about criminals. However, my introduction to criminality happened a long term before that, at the then naive young age of 18 when I was dating one.
As an 18-year-old, I was a strong, determined and committed young person. I was outspoken, popular and a maverick of sorts. I would have been the last person you would have thought of as being naive, yet it appears when it came to boyfriends, I was.
The boy I fell in love with was, for the want of a better phrase, from the wrong side of town. He would get up and leave me at 2 a.m. and bring me back "presents" of all sorts. He always had money, despite not working and I was often left holding his coat when he went off to have "chats" with rival gangs.
I know looking at it now that it seems so obvious that this wasn't the brightest idea but to me, as an 18-year-old, it passed me by. It wasn't until a police officer turned up at my house to search for stolen goods that I realized something may be wrong and when they took away perfume and jewellery that was stolen in a burglary, I really began to understand what was happening.
My wonderful boyfriend at the time had been arrested for several counts of burglary and fraud, which explained where the money for the holiday had come from. I was devastated. I had always had a real sense of justice and I was the last person who would have broken the law, yet I had allowed myself to get into this position. How could this happen? Well they say love is blind and in my case, it really was.
As I look back at it now and having worked with many criminals since this boyfriend at 18, is there anything you can do or say if you discover your daughter is dating a criminal? What could someone have said to me at 18 that would have made me leave him sooner than I did?
1. Look at the facts.
If someone would have told me what was happening before I found out, I think I would have left him earlier. I questioned friends after as to why they didn't tell me and they just said they assumed I knew. But I didn't; I loved him and I always assumed the best of him (I later found out that while I was holding his coat he was putting someone in hospital).
The girlfriend is often the last to know what is really happening as she is shielded from the real truth. She sees the boyfriend as she wants to and without anyone telling her otherwise, she will continue to believe the facade he is showing her.
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