What were the probation service actually doing while Gary Glitter was free from prison?

14 March 2023, 09:33

LBC's Head of Editorial asks what were authorities actually doing to monitor Gary Glitter
LBC's Head of Editorial asks what were authorities actually doing to monitor Gary Glitter. Picture: LBC

By StephenRigley

What were the probation services actually doing for the 38 days Gary Glitter was free from prison?

The paedophile was subject to 'some of the strictest licence conditions' upon his release last month after serving half a 16-year term imposed in 2015 for sexually abusing girls aged under 13 during his pop heyday in the 1970s.

Yet these 'tough conditions' and close monitoring didn't prevent him trying to access the 'dark web' from inside the gated-walls of the southern England hostel where he was staying.

This begs numerous questions. High on the list is what else was the disgraced glam rock singer up to during his 30 days of freedom

Glitter's 'rap sheet' shows what sort of a man he actually is and why questions need to be asked of the authorities handling his case.

He was at the height of his fame when he attacked two girls, aged 12 and 13, after inviting them backstage to his dressing room and isolating them from their mothers.

His third victim was younger than 10 years old when he crept into her bed and tried to rape her in 1975.

The allegations only came to light nearly 40 years later when he became the first person to be arrested under Operation Yewtree, the investigation launched by the Metropolitan police after the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Responding to the Glitter case, the Ministry of Justice said: "Sex offenders are closely monitored by the police and Probation Service and face some of the strictest licence conditions including restrictions on internet use. If an offender breaches these conditions, they can be recalled to prison."

But how was this allowed to happen? And can the police and probation services effectively monitor other high-profile offenders should they ever be freed?

James Bulger's killer Jon Venables is due to have a date with the Parole Board soon that could secure his release.

Can he be safely and securely watched? He was sent to jail in 2010 and 2017 after being caught with child sex abuse images on his computer.

What freedoms will Isis-bride Shamima Begum be allowed to enjoy should she ever be allowed to return to Britain?

Having been stripped of her British citizenship, Begum currently languishes in a Syrian refugee camp as her legal team weighs up her next bid to return to Britain.

Last month a Special Immigration Appeals Commission heard security services 'continue to assess' that Begum poses a risk to the UK.

And she would undoubtedly be a target for retribution should Begum ever be seen wandering the streets in any major British city.

Today, Glitter is back in a prison cell where he will probably serve the rest of his sentence. He will need parole board approval before he can be freed again and at the age of 79, he could die in prison.

But what lessons are there for the authorities scrabbling to protect their damaged reputations?

Top of the list has to be how could such a prolific offender be handed such freedoms and how can we ensure proper monitoring occurs.

Only then can we effectively say we have learnt the lessons of the Gary Glitter case.