Mr. John M. Taylor
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on plans for an upper age limit for lay visitors within the area of the West Midlands Police Authority. 
§ Mr. Charles Clarke
Lay visiting is the responsibility of individual police authorities and each scheme must evolve to suit local circumstances. The West Midlands Police Authority began introducing an upper age limit of 70 for lay visitors from October 1998.
Current Home Office guidance to police authorities on lay visiting makes no reference to age limits. However, the separate guidance issued for the Metropolitan Police area states that persons who are under the age of 18 or over the age of 70 will not normally be appointed. All this Home Office guidance, which is advisory, is shortly to be reviewed and the arguments for and against age limits will be considered as part of that process.