Chief Superintendent Stuart Hooper was recognised with a Queen’s Police Medal in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.
And he has now been presented with his medal by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge at an Investiture at Windsor Castle.
Stuart is our West Local Policing Area Commander. He was one of six Essex Police officers and members of police staff honoured with either the QPM or the British Empire Medal and one of three of our officers recognised for their work during the biggest investigation Essex Police has undertaken – the deaths of 39 Vietnamese people who suffocated in an articulated lorry trailer.
Ultimately, four men were jailed for a total of 78 years and four months for offences ranging from manslaughter to people smuggling and conspiring to bring people into the country unlawfully.
Stuart was deployed to Grays on the morning of the tragedy and helped to lead the investigation. He played a key role in shaping the response not only to the investigation itself but also Essex Police’s ongoing response to organised immigration crime.
“To be recognised for my work during and after such a tragic event is very humbling. “The response to the initial incident and the subsequent investigation involved multiple emergency services and partner agencies and, while it was one of the toughest cases I have been involved in emotionally, I feel privileged to have been involved. “The victims and their families in Vietnam will always have a special place in my heart.” Chief Superintendent Stuart Hooper
Following the discovery of the victims in Grays on 23 October 2019, more than 1,300 officers, staff and volunteers worked on the case.
Amongst all the tireless work to obtain justice for their families, Stuart brought together key agencies and law enforcement partners from nine other countries to share relevant information so we could get justice for the 39 victims and their loved ones.
This included the creation of a Joint Investigation Team, work with the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, Eurojust, and liaising with various foreign Embassies as well as law enforcement officials in Vietnam ahead of a visit to the grieving relatives by our family liaison officers in February 2020.
He then used these relationships to develop preventive practices which have informed national strategies to tackle organised immigration crime.
Essex Police is committed to identifying, disrupting and tackling ruthless criminal gangs exploiting vulnerable people and putting their welfare at risk and working with the haulage industry to make their lorries safer and reduce risk and harm to anyone who may be smuggled into our country in a lorry.
Has Stuart inspired you?
People from all walks of life are applying to join Essex Police and everyone is welcome if you share our values and want to help people and to protect and serve our communities.