Workplace violence is a growing problem, the Association of Local Authority Risk Managers (Alarm) has been told.

“The Health & Safety Executive has placed the management of violence high on the agenda, and so have many lawyers,” conflict management specialist Bill Fox told the association's conference in Coventry last week.

Fox said he was working with more than 20 local authorities and healthcare trusts on conflict and violence management.

“Violence towards staff… carries a high cost in human terms,” he said.

But he added that said it was possible for local authorities to employ a holistic response, using assessment and prevention strategies, incident response and post-incident reporting and support.

Glasgow City Housing, West London Hospitals NHS Trust and Croydon council had been among the most successful in reducing violence. Glasgow had cut attacks on staff in its hostel system, which is the UK's largest, while West London had improved safety in its A&E departments. Croydon had reduced violence aimed at its parking attendants, who “have a strong reputation in parking enforcement”, Fox said.

Fox's workshop was only one of several covering work-related topics. Others discussed stress management, absenteeism and school security.