Detective receives top policing honour from Prince Charles
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Detective Inspector Michelle Stoten was recognised with a Queen’s Police Medal in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.
And she has now been presented with her medal by Prince Charles at an Investiture at Windsor Castle.
Michelle 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.
“I feel very honoured and privileged to have been recognised for the work done on the investigation. “The Investiture at Windsor Castle was a fantastic experience and once in a lifetime opportunity to be presented this award by the Prince of Wales.” Detective Inspector Michelle Stoten
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, Michelle’s dedication and compassion as the investigation’s family liaison co-ordinator (FLC) shone through.
Most of the victims’ families lived more than 6,000 miles away but, despite language barriers and a different policing style, she liaised with the Vietnamese Government and law enforcement, enlisting the help of translators and experienced family liaison officers (FLOs) to gain the trust of the grieving families.
Her time, patience and resourcefulness allowed for support to be given to families and communities over differing timescales, taking into account differing religions, faiths and cultures, to ensure that each victim and their family were treated with respect and dignity.
Michelle oversaw a visit to Vietnam in February 2020, where our FLOs met the victims' families face-to-face for the first time and led one of the teams in a remote part of the country.
She also deputised for the senior detective responsible for the victim identification process, ensuring that all 39 files were of the correct standard for the Identification Commission, so that the 39 victims could be officially named and repatriated to their families.
“She is a dedicated detective and a role-model to those within the investigative field. Her support to the families throughout this challenging time – where they were grieving with international media intrusion – will never be forgotten.” Michelle’s QPM citation
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