Charles Bronson: notorious prisoner loses Parole Board bid to be freed from jail
Charles Bronson, one of the UK’s longest-serving prisoners, took part in one of the country’s first public parole hearings earlier this month
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A prisoner once dubbed one of Britain's most violent offenders has lost a Parole Board bid to be freed from jail, even after nearly 50 years behind bars.
The decision comes after 70-year-old Charles Bronson - one of the UK’s longest-serving prisoners – who changed his surname to Salvador in 2014, took part in one of the country’s first public parole hearings earlier this month.
Warning: the video interview with Charles Bronson contains some explicit language.
Bronson has been imprisoned most of the last 48 years - apart from two brief periods of freedom during which he reoffended - for a string of thefts, firearms and violent offences, including 11 hostage-taking incidents in nine different sieges.
Most recently, he was given a discretionary life sentence with a minimum of four years in 2000, for taking a prison teacher at HMP Hull hostage for nearly two days.
In a document detailing the decision published on Thursday, the Parole Board said: “After considering the circumstances of his offending, the progress that Mr Salvador has made while in custody and the evidence presented at the hearings, the panel was not satisfied that Mr Salvador was suitable for release."
The Board also advised against transferring him to an open prison environment. "The panel noted that Mr Salvador has spent most of the last 48 years in custody and that much of this time has been in conditions of segregation."
The summary of their decision added: "The panel accepted that Mr Salvador genuinely wants to progress and that he is motivated to work towards his release. It thought that there was evidence of improved self-control and better emotional management.
"However, the panel was mindful of his history of persistent rule breaking and that Mr Salvador sees little wrong with this. He lives his life rigidly by his own rules and code of conduct and is quick to judge others by his own standards. His positive progress has to be assessed in the context of him being held in a highly restrictive environment."
The panel added, it did not know exactly what was containing Salvador’s risk. "It is unclear whether the strong external controls of custody are mainly responsible or whether his attitudes have genuinely changed... The panel could not be satisfied that Mr Salvador has the skills to manage his risk of future violence until he has been extensively tested outside of his current highly restricted environment."
He will be eligible for another parole review in due course, they said.
Responding to the Parole Board’s decision, Charles Bronson’s son George Bamby said: “I would have loved Charlie to have been released but completely respect the decision of the Parole Board.”
Bronson’s ex-wife Irene Dunroe, on the other hand, who released a book about her relationship with the notorious prisoner last year, said she was “devastated, shocked” and “so upset”.
"Mick has been in there for 48 years – he’s never murdered anybody. How many murderers are in prison for 48 years? Now he’s got another two, three, four years, and that’s just a parole, and it’s all going to happen again," she said. "Everyone’s going to go up in arms about this. It’s disgusting and very, very upsetting. I can’t believe it."
During the course of his hearing, the Parole Board heard Bronson, whose name was originally Michael Peterson, was subjected to stressful situations during his time in prison, which resulted in mild symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. She added: “He feels like the whole system is about humiliating and degrading him.”
The psychologist in the case commented on his “romanticised” view of violent incidents he was involved in in the past. She also said that violent outbursts towards prison staff were a result of a dislike of authority figures, but that this did not translate into a threat to the wider public.
While the three parole judges heard the notorious prisoner had found violence "cathartic" in the past, he said he now channelled his efforts into his artwork. He invited the parole board members to view his art pieces, describing each one as a “piece of me”.