Details of work by Essex Police in Vietnam as part of investigation in to 39 deaths in lorry

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REPRESENTATIVES from Essex Police are entering their final week in Vietnam and have completed family visits across six provinces in the country.

The success of this visit would not have been possible without the support of our partner agencies, including the Ministry of Public Security in Vietnam, the British Embassy in Vietnam, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, local law enforcement colleagues in the provinces and the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Throughout the last fortnight, officers and staff have been able to meet with all Vietnam-based families whose loved ones were tragically found dead in Grays on 23 October 2019.

These visits were arranged by our partners and allowed the team to offer condolences to the families face-to-face and answer any questions they had, as well as gathering accounts from family members about the circumstances that had led their loved ones to the UK.

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The meetings were chaired by the local law enforcement in each province visited: Ha Tinh, Nghe An, Quang Binh, Thua Thien Hue, Hai Phong and Hai Duong. Members of the Ministry of Public Security and representatives from the Embassy were also present to assist in what were emotionally challenging meetings.

After months of dedicated discussions, the team from Essex Police has been warmly received by all partner organisations. This has ensured that the families of victims were given the opportunity to learn more about the identification process for their loved ones, could hear more about the progress of the investigation and, most importantly, had face-to-face support from our family liaison officers.

ACC Tim Smith of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “This visit has been crucial to ensure we gave the victims’ families the very best support we could despite the distance from Essex. Our officers and staff have worked hard to ensure this happened and I hope it has given the families affected some small comfort in such a tragic event. One of the main challenges with this investigation has been the vastness of its geography. We are incredibly thankful that, in addition to the contact we’ve had with families over the phone, we were able to come to Vietnam and offer our support and condolences in person.

“This simply would not have been possible without the support from colleagues at home and that of diplomatic and law enforcement partners in Vietnam.

From an international level to a local one, we have worked together to get the best outcome of this visit for the families of the victims, who have suffered unimaginable losses. Our thoughts are always with them, and we are so grateful to have been able to communicate that directly to them.”

Mark Bishop, the NCA’s head of operations for the Asia Pacific region, said: “The investigation into the tragic events in Essex last October has been extremely complex and truly international. I’d like to thank our law enforcement colleagues in Vietnam for their support, and our work with them will continue through the NCA international network. I’d also like to add my condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives. I hope this visit has at least given them some reassurance that the UK authorities are determined to do all we can to bring those responsible to justice.”

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