A senior judge has said there is a "highly defensive atmosphere" in social services about "future disasters" meaning that social workers are under increased pressure to intervene into the lives of families.
The comments from Justice Sir Mark Hedley come as the chief executive of campaign group British Association of Social Workers said its members were working in a 'climate of fear' and often had to 'play it safe'.
The concerns are investigated in a new documentary, to be aired on ITV at 10.35pm on Tuesday 15th July, called Exposure: Don't take my Child.
The programme examines how and why social workers are increasingly prepared to remove children from their birth parents through forced adoption.
The show features the distressing video showing the forced removal of a father's young baby.
The father had already lost his older children to adoption because he and his wife couldn’t cope without support.
The decision to take this child was made by the courts before he was even born.
The number of court orders required to place a child into the adoption process has increased by 95 per cent in the last three years, while new laws introduced this year mean it is likely there will be more cases.
But most often, the stories remain shrouded in the secrecy of family courts where journalists are barred from reporting.
Exposure focuses on the parents who claim to have been unfairly dealt with by the system, alongside insight from leading social workers and legal workers.
It looks at whether child protection following the death of Baby P in 2007 is increasingly geared towards the permanent removal of children as opposed to supporting families to stay together. It also hears concerns that the new legislation will put social workers under pressure to act quickly.
The time limits now imposed for formulating a care plan have raised concerns that an adoption order is likely to be made in shorter time - potentially making it more difficult for birth parents to get their children back.
Support for families
Secretly filmed footage by the father of one child shows his newborn baby being forcibly removed from the arms of his mother by social workers and police just hours after its birth.
The decision was made before the baby was even born and the father describes how powerless he felt when the authorities came to take the child away.
Barrister Martha Cover has specialised in child law for 25 years, and believes there have been incidences where the law on secrecy has been taken too far.
For parents, it can be extremely difficult to get their child back from care once they are approved for potential adoption.
One woman, who asked to remain anonymous, endured a 12-month fight for their return.
Her children are still under a year-long supervision order and she says she fears that social services could try to take her children away again.
Such long battles to get children back are less likely to happen with the new Children and Family Act now in force.
The Act, championed by Education Secretary Michael Gove, who was adopted himself, gained Royal Assent in April this year and sets a target of just 26 weeks from when a child is taken from parents and a care plan is approved.
The Department for Education says decisions to remove children from their families rest with the courts and should only happen when they are sure children are suffering or likely to suffer significant harm.
But Bridget Robb, chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers, believes the Government is now erring on the side of taking children away from their parents.
Conservative parliamentary candidate Lucy Allan reveals how she found herself desperately trying to clear her reputation as a fit mother after suffering a bout of depression.
She had to act quickly and funded a legal battle to force social services to concede her son was not at any risk after her GP called in social workers.
The despair parents can find themselves in has spawned an unofficial network that helps mothers flee British social services.
Multimillionaire Ian Josephs, now a resident of Monaco, told Exposure about his work advising and personally funding the travel costs of expectant mothers to leave Britain because, he believes, they have nowhere else to turn.
Even grandparents hoping to keep children within their families can find they run into difficulties.
Anthony and Alison were desperate to adopt their grandson when social services decided their daughter was not a fit mother, but after Alison missed two meetings with social workers, a decision was taken to continue showing the child to prospective adoptive families.
They now have visiting rights, but they all still feel the heartache of saying goodbye when they have to leave.