Crime

Teacher turned volunteer cop urges kids to ‘look out for each other’ after responding to fatal stabbing

A full-time teacher who was one of the first responders to the fatal stabbing of a teenage boy in Stretford earlier this year in her voluntary capacity as a Special Sergeant has described witnessing the trauma of the incident – urging kids to ‘look out for each other’ to stamp out youth violence.

Temporary Special Sergeant Lauren Whitworth dedicated more than 500 hours of her time to the streets of Trafford last year alongside her full-time role as a maths teacher of 12 years in the borough.

The 33-year-old’s hybrid insight has enabled her to grasp a real enthusiasm for working with teenagers, and an appetite for educating them in and outside the classroom to give them a different perspective on the real world and in policing.

On the evening of Saturday 22 January – more than two years into her role with us as a Special – Sgt Whitworth was with a PC colleague when they received the report shortly before 7pm that a teenage boy had been seriously stabbed in the street.

Tragically, the life of 16-year-old Kennie Carter couldn’t be saved despite the best efforts of Sgt Whitworth and all those from police and NWAS who rushed quickly to the scene on Thirlmere Avenue.

Lauren reflects on the devastating events of that night and the impact of seeing a teenage boy’s life end in front of her: “When we got to the scene there was a member of the public already trying to assist Kennie, and then my colleague and I brought out the first aid bag and tried to help him before the paramedics arrived.

“At that time you have a job to do and you’re in business mode – everything happened so fast. But afterwards it did affect me, particularly the fact that a mother had lost her son.

“The saddest thing for me was the fact that Kennie didn’t lose his life; it was taken from him. It made me wonder ‘how many more boys’ are going to have to have their lives needlessly taken from them and their loved ones.”

Colleagues and leaders from both our Trafford district and Lauren’s school offered all possible support to her in the following days, after an incident that she describes as ‘traumatising to everyone who was there’.

Despite the tears and upset that Sgt Whitworth felt over that weekend before she swapped the station for the classroom the following Monday morning, Lauren describes how the traumatic shift from that weekend only ‘fuelled her passion’ and ‘enhanced her drive’ in working with young people.

Born- and-bred in Trafford, her versatility as a teacher and a police officer has helped form not just an understanding, but also a level of empathy with teenagers about their experiences on the street and how it can shape certain behaviours in the classroom.

She explains: “Before I joined the police I didn’t have my eyes open to what some kids were experiencing outside of school, but over the last two-and-a-half years I’ve gradually realised this and have noticed that I’ve become a lot more patient and understanding of them.

“What’s concerning is that there does seem to be such a fine line at a young age between whether one child becomes a victim, or if they run the risk of becoming an offender – this is the danger of going out with the wrong crowd or, in some cases, even resorting to carrying a weapon on the streets. Kids have to look out for each other.

“Having myself in the classroom as someone the kids look up to as a teacher – but also having the insight of a police officer – it means my students are able to ask me things and are interested in what I do.

“And there are some children who may not show an interest and who say I’m a ‘grass’ or a ‘fed’ but when I explain what it is that the police actually do and how important it is to speak to the police, then they do start to see it differently. It helps give a ‘face’ to the police, I think.”

Her unique dual-responsibility is one that she believes makes her ‘best-placed to make a difference’.

With no background in policing prior to her training to become a volunteer at GMP in 2019, Special Sgt Whitworth encourages anyone able to do so to think about the merits of dedicated some of their spare time to become of a police officer.

Greater Manchester Police always welcomes new recruits to join us and have a real impact in serving their communities by becoming a Special.

As part of the continued fight against knife crime across Greater Manchester, the Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit recently launched the #SpeakingOutCouldSaveALife anti-violence campaign. The campaign encourages friends, family members and teachers to speak out if they are concerned about a young person and features a youth worker, teacher, young person and community worker sharing the clear message that speaking out could save a life.

We all have a part to play when it comes to tackling knife crime and serious youth violence. Family members, friends and teachers all have an important influence on a young person, and can have a powerful effect. It might be a difficult conversation, but talking about knife carrying is the way to finding a solution and saving lives.

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