The Probation Service stepped in “so that it doesn’t escalate into anything more serious and public protection is not compromised,” the source said.
They added: “He is back in custody. It’s an example of the system working as it should.”
It is understood that he is now back behind bars in a closed prison and victims’ families have been informed.
A government source told The Telegraph it is likely to be years, not months, before he is out again.
The move will accelerate plans to shake up the parole board by opening up hearings to victims and the public through the press, to make its decisions more transparent.
Ministers are also planning to make it less secretive and more like a conventional open court overseen by judges, with more information and evidence presented in public.
‘Protecting the public is our number one priority’
A Probation Service spokesperson said: “Protecting the public is our number one priority so when offenders breach the conditions of their release and potentially pose an increased risk, we don’t hesitate to return them to custody.”
Dawn Ashworth’s mother, Barbara, said last night: “I’m pleased that he’s been put away and women and girls are safe and protected from him now.
“It’s a safer place when he’s behind bars and I won’t have to worry about other people being hurt by him for the time being.
“But there’s always the worry that he might get out again, he seems to have a lot of people on his side who give him the benefit of the doubt. But for now, I have to be pleased about the news.”
The decision to release Pitchfork prompted a public outcry and followed unsuccessful attempts to keep him behind bars. He was subjected to more than 40 licence conditions, which the Ministry of Justice described as some of the strictest “ever set”.
Calls to re-examine release rejected
Following a hearing in March, the Parole Board ruled that Pitchfork was “suitable for release”, despite parole being denied in 2016 and 2018.
In June, the then Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland, asked the board, which is independent of the Government, to re-examine the decision under the so-called reconsideration mechanism, which was rejected.
Typically there are seven standard conditions for offenders leaving prison but Pitchfork had to meet a further 36 requirements.
He is on the sex offenders’ register and had to live at a designated address, be supervised by probation, wear an electronic tag, take part in polygraph – lie detector – tests, and disclose what vehicles he uses and who he spoke to, while also under limits on contact with children.
He was subject to a curfew and had restrictions on using digital technology, as well as facing limitations on where he could go.
‘Deep concerns and reservations’
Alberto Costa, the MP for South Leicestershire where Pitchfork committed his crimes, said he had spoken with the policing minister Kit Malthouse to express “deep concerns and reservations about why this individual was released in the first place”.
He said: “My constituents remember the events from the 1980s as if it was yesterday and my number one priority is not Pitchfork and his rights, it’s the safety of my constituents and the wider public.
“I will continue to fight as hard as I can to ensure that any assessment that now takes place of this psychopath results in him remaining behind bars.”
Pitchfork’s case now has to be referred to the Parole Board within 28 days and a hearing is likely to take place lasting six months.
The hearing will determine whether Pitchfork should stay in a closed prison, be transferred to an open prison or be released. If he is not freed after that hearing, his next parole review would be in about two years’ time.