The UK's sky-rocketing “blame and claim” culture is diverting vital resources from front-line public services, the Association of Local Authority Risk Managers (Alarm) has warned.

This was one of the most serious messages to emerge from the two-day Alarm conference at Warwick University in Coventry earlier this week.

Alarm chief executive Sheila Boyce said a survey of the association's members showed that the compensation culture was attacking the public sector, with 84% of respondents saying no-win no-fee advertising was encouraging frivolous claims.

More than 60% said the cost of investigating these claims was diverting public money from services such as motorways, education and housing.

Almost 100% of local authorities have experienced increasing claims costs over the past three years.

Boyce said the survey was the beginning of Alarm's fight against the dangerous shift, and could lead to a public awareness advertising campaign.

Other topical issues covered at the conference, attended by almost 400 delegates from the UK, US, Australia and continental Europe, included asbestos management and workplace stress.

Almost 40 stands were run by brokers and insurers such as Heath Lambert, Aon, Zurich Municipal, DAS, Hiscox, Ace Europe and St Paul, plus related legal, consultancy and product suppliers.

Delegates agreed that the conference had its best year, with a broad range of speakers and a 500-strong James Bond-themed annual dinner.