ALARM - The National Forum for Risk Management in the Public Sector - presents Europe's premier public sector risk management conference for 2005, says Peter Andrews

Risk management is one of the most dynamic and important disciplines in business today, be that in the public or private sector.

ALARM is the country's biggest organisation dedicated to improving risk management within the public sector and is the leading voice in its field.

Our annual national conference has become the key event in most public sector risk managers' calendars, combining quality education sessions with excellent networking opportunities and a major exhibition.

Now in its 13th year, the event regularly attracts delegates from across the UK and overseas. This year's conference is taking place at Manchester University on 3-6 July and will reflect the breadth of topics that the Association's members and other risk practitioners currently deal with to ensure minimum disruption to vital frontline services.

Education, education, education

With over 50 speakers lined up to provide more than 12 hours of educational sessions, there promises to be something for everyone.

There will be our usual mixture of introductory sessions for newcomers to the field, as well as advanced and highly technical sessions for the more experienced risk practitioner. Alongside some of the old favourites, this year's line up of speakers boasts a wide range of experts, who will be giving presentations on all aspects of risk for the first time.

'Graduation Day - Supporting the Risk Practitioners of the Future' is our theme this year and there are a number of strands concerning personal development and soft skills, as well as technical sessions.

Here are just some of the subjects that we have in store for delegates:

- Legal issues, including subjects as diverse as witness support, corporate manslaughter and the popular claims update
- Health issues, such as the lessons to be learned from adverse clinical incidents
- Housing issues, from the perspective of social housing risk and managing the risk of asbestos
- Blue light services risks, with sessions on controlling large event risks, the Freedom of Information Act and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order
- Risk financing, with workshops on subjects such as alternative risk transfer, self-financing and school insurable risk
- Emerging risks, with e-commerce, e-procurement, project management, business continuity planning and climate change all under the microscope.

Other related skills will not be forgotten either, with sessions on facilitating skills, influencing change and how to develop your career.

This year's keynote speaker is David Walker, editor of Public, the monthly magazine for public sector executives published by The Guardian. He is a regular presenter of BBC Radio 4's Analysis programme and his books include Better or Worse, did Labour deliver? David is a visiting professor at City University London, and a trustee of the National Centre for Social Research.

David will address the theme of trust and risk and ask: if public bodies are suffering a lapse in public confidence, how are they to communicate subtle messages about risk and security to the public? Is the collapse of trust confined to elected members and politicians? Can public bodies establish zones of confidence in which risk assessments can be shared between public and experts?

New to our conference will be a formal debate on a key current topic.

This year we will be asking 'Is the public sector too risk averse?' We are all familiar with stories in the press of school trips being cancelled, trees being felled and conkers being banned, but what is the real picture?

Is risk management being used as an excuse for excessive risk avoidance?

Networking and social

The ALARM conference provides a unique opportunity to network with practitioners from throughout the UK and the rest of the world, sharing best practice and keeping up with current developments. Although the main purpose of the conference is educational, our delegates are more than able to combine education with the ability to have a good time.

It is often daunting to attend such a large conference for the first time and so we run a very popular freshers event on the Sunday afternoon, when those new to conference can get an introduction to the layout of the venue and meet other first-timers.

The National Public Sector Risk Management Awards

The ALARM Awards dinner on the second night is the highlight of the conference for many delegates. This prestigious event recognises the work of ALARM's members and associates and celebrates their achievements in the field of public sector risk over the past 12 months. This year the Awards dinner will be held at the New Century Hall in central Manchester.

I look forward to welcoming everyone to Manchester. For more information or to order a booking form please visit our website - Peter Andrews is chairman of ALARM conference committee


The National Forum for Risk Management in the Public Sector which celebrates its 13th anniversary this year, represents almost 2,000 members across the UK public sector. The association's aims are to enable public sector organisations to develop and implement successful risk management practice, to promote education, training and research and to disseminate information. For more information please visit the ALARM website on