Charles Bronson: Should Britain's most notorious criminal be freed?

Charles Bronson, arguably Britain's most notorious criminal, will make a bid for freedom at a public parole hearing today.

Having spent most of the past 50 years behind bars, much of that in solitary confinement, Bronson will argue he is safe to be released.

The Parole Board review to decide whether he should remain behind bars begins today, making him the second inmate in UK legal history to have his case heard in public.

Often regarded as one of Britain's most violent offenders, Bronson - who changed his name to Salvador in 2014 after the artist Salvador Dali - was jailed in for armed robbery in 1974.

His seven-year sentence has been extended many times because of his violent attacks on prison staff and fellow inmates.

He was sentenced in 2000 to a discretionary life term with a minimum of four years for taking a prison teacher at HMP Hull hostage. Although he didn't physically hurt the teacher, his victim was so traumatised they did not return to work in the prison.

Since then, the Parole Board has repeatedly refused to approve his release due to subsequent violent episodes.

In a recent Channel 4 documentary Bronson said he could“smell and taste freedom” and insisted he had reformed, turning to art while behind bars. He added he hopes to be released to enjoy “what’s left” of his life.

“I’ve got a horrible, nasty, vicious, violent past (but) I’ve never killed anyone, I’ve never harmed a woman, never harmed a child,” he said.

“I’m focused, I’m settled, I can actually smell and taste freedom like I’ve never, ever done in (my) life. I’m now anti-crime, anti-violent.

“What the f*** am I still in prison for?”

Bronson is currently assessed as a medium risk to staff and fellow inmates, but is still a Category A prisoner held in the close supervision centre at Woodhill Prison near Milton Keynes.

The Parole Board hearing is expected to last three days, with a decision announced two weeks later.