eAIRMIC has given its support to a new business continuity standard known as PAS 56

The document, which has been drawn up by the British Standards Institution and Business Continuity Institute, sets out a process for any organisation that wishes to safeguard business continuity. PAS 56 is an important step forward, and creates a recognised framework where none previously existed.

The Council of AIRMIC, while encouraging risk managers to adopt PAS 56 as a benchmark of good practice, is nonetheless calling for it to be strengthened in certain areas. We would welcome some reinforcement of it, notably in relation to crisis management, crisis communications and supply chain continuity. Still, it represents an impressive start, and we recommend risk managers to become familiar with it. From an insurance perspective, the insurance market is likely to ask commercial clients whether they are PAS 56-compliant when renewing policies and to seek assurance regarding compliance with the standard from prospective policyholders.

UK risk managers have their own private-public sector initiative. The chairman of the public sector risk management association ALARM, Bob Cope, and I met to consider how our organisations could work even more closely together. Ideas include joint training schemes and increased co-operation on issues of major importance. The chairmen and chief executives of the two organisations are going to meet formally on a quarterly basis, and the chairman and executive director of the Institute of Risk Management (IRM) will be invited to take part.

The Civil Contingencies Bill, which will be introduced into Parliament early this year, is of particular interest to ALARM, but it also has implications for a number of AIRMIC members. Bob Cope has said that ALARM is "one of the supporters of the principle of the Bill," and believes that it will aid public sector risk managers toiling to increase awareness of risk management and make people realise that it is a vital tool, but he does have some concerns. "There is a lack of clarity about the allocation of roles and responsibilities and funding details are also unclear," he says.

I think we should add our support in principle to the Bill's provisions, welcoming the mandatory requirement for contingency planning by local authorities for emergencies and the requirement for risk assessment, support Bob's views on accountabilities and funding, and add a note of caution about the emergency powers, which appear more appropriate for certain types of emergency than others.