Anyone who works in child protection will tell you that one of the worst aspects of the job is having to take a youngster from its mother’s arms, possibly for ever.
It is heart-breaking enough, even when you are 100 per cent sure that being taken into care is the best thing for that child. But what if you are forcibly removing a child from a mother you believe to be a good and caring parent?
Keira Roberts never imagined that she would find herself in such a position when she accepted a job with an eminent psychiatrist who specialised in helping local authorities identify dangerous or neglectful parents.
Dr George Hibbert was regarded as one of country’s leading experts on child abuse, had lectured at Oxford and had advised MPs on the family courts system.
When Keira agreed to work for him, it was at one of his Family Assessment Centres — places where families who had come to the attention of social services departments were referred. They were placed under round-the-clock observation while it was determined what should happen next.
It was a very intrusive set-up, but Keira assumed that Dr Hibbert — who was highly trusted (and very well paid) by a string of local authorities — knew what he was doing.