Social workers Rose and Al work in a children’s services department, dealing every day with the all too familiar social issues that flood the media. Swimming against a tide of bureaucracy and pedantry, and contending with the absurdities and irrationalities of life in a county council office, the pair attempt to navigate their way through their equally trying professional and personal lives.
The threat of violence is never far away as the Elm Heath team once again face up to a series of problems that our increasingly complex society just expects them to sort out without any fuss or acknowledgement.
Al gets a surprise visit from Sean, a boy with a transitioning parent and a troubled past. Ever-competitive Nitin can't get over Martin being Mimi's mentor. Denise's brother Dennis visits and takes a shine to Rose, much to Denise's fury. At the supermarket, Nitin bumps into Zak, the litigious snob whose wife has now left him - drunk in charge of the baby. And Ingrid is excited about her 14-year-old foster son; it's not a problem that he stubbed out his cigarette in his 'welcome' cake.
Nitin arrives early and gets a fright by Nat who's slept at the office, and Denise freezes on live TV when a case of historic abuse is mentioned.
Nitin, the ex-copper with no personal allegiances or friends, is tasked with grassing on the rest of the social work team at Elm Heath Children's Services.
An unexpected outbreak of punctuality surprises the cluster teams at Elm Heath, Rose uncovers an embarrassing truth whilst investigating an improper teacher-pupil relationship, and Nitin wins the job of cleaning Elm Heath council's most toxic kitchen. Meanwhile, Al quietly comes to the rescue of his clients with learning difficulties and a new baby.
Everyone is entirely unaware that one of them is about to be taken hostage by a violent man with two children in care, a personal grudge against Rose, and a full bladder.
Rose's mum has dementia. There's no way of looking after her unless Rose can pass her off as work experience and craftily get her assessed by the Elderly Care team upstairs.
Nitin is getting a haircut, because Nat's fixed him up with a date and Nitin badly 'wants some'. Meanwhile, PC Harris calls an Emergency Strategy Meeting at Children's Services.