What is Headspace?

Headspace is Amber Marks's satirical account of her research into the policing of smell - she uses developments in smell research as an allegory for the surveillance society. Amber was working as a barrister when she started spotting sniffer dogs on her travels to courts in different parts of the country. Disturbed by the implications for civil liberties (who needs a warrant when you've got a dog) and cynical about the supposed infallibility of canine intelligence (barking up the wrong knee), Amber started researching the phenomenon. To her amazement she discovered that across the world, people are being convicted on the word of a dog alone - despite the science of smell (the fascinating history and advances of which are all included in this book) being very poorly understood. As a legal expert on canine evidence, Amber is invited to a Ministry of Defence conference where the security applications of mice, moths, salmon and plants are discussed. That's when Amber's research journey really begins.

Q & A with Amber:

Why did you call the book "Headspace"?

Quite a lot in the book is about the importance of pscyhological privacy to human liberty and autonomy. Headspace - in 1960s jargon- means psychological privacy, the cognitive shed required for the development of an individual personality. When an entomologist told me that 'headspace' is also the technical term for the area surrounding a subject in which their smell can be detected and analysed - I knew it had to be the title of my book.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I enjoyed everything about it. I enjoyed befriending security agents, police officers and scientists (they have all taken the fun I poke at their research in good humour). I enjoyed researching all the novels relating to the sense of smell (Perfume, Jitterbug Perfume, Brave New World, Oryx And Crake and millions of others) and learning about the science of smell. It was a great excuse to read Arthur Koestler's Ghost in the Machine and learn about bee brains and the manipulation of instinctive behaviour.

What is Dogwatch?

Dogwatch is the name of a secret organisation in Amber's book. It monitors potential threats to Headspace and seeks to inform people of their rights in these confusing times. It is presently focused on developments in surveillance, forensic science, less than lethal weapons, the militarisation of biology and the science of smell. Membership is easy- just send your findings to Amber and automatically become a member!

ACPO Respond on Important Issue of Dog Shoes

Ref:80/08 July 7, 2008
ACPO statement on use of police dogs

Peter Vaughan, Deputy Chief Constable of South Wales police and ACPO lead on police dogs said:

“Contrary to media reports, ACPO guidelines currently being drawn up on the use of police dogs do not require or request police forces to use boots when police dogs are being used within Muslim buildings. There is in fact neither any reference to the use of boots in the draft guidelines, nor to any specific faith or community.

“Instead, the draft guidelines outline a general principle that police forces should consider what steps can be taken to avoid offending people during operations. This might include different categories of people such as those with a fear of dogs, for example, or asthma sufferers who may be sensitive to dog hair.

“However while the police will take cultural sensitivities into account, in all operations effective policing will take primacy.

“The guidelines are expected to be completed by the end of the year.”

Notes for Editors

• The ACPO Press Office can be contacted via 020 7084 8946/47/48 (office hours) or via 07803 903686 (out of office hours).

• The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is an independent, professionally led strategic body. In the public interest and, in equal and active partnership with Government and the Association of Police Authorities, ACPO leads and co-ordinates the direction and development of the police service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In times of national need ACPO, on behalf of all chief officers, coordinates the strategic policing response.