Ms Amber Marks
Lecturer in Criminal Law and Evidence and Co-Director of the Criminal Justice Centre
Amber Marks is a barrister and is Co-Director of the Criminal Justice Centre and Convenor for the Law of Evidence and Criminal Justice and Surveillance Technologies at QMUL where she lectures in the law of evidence, criminal law and criminal justice and surveillance. She is a co-founder of the multi-disciplinary network 'Bayes and the Law', a member of the Metropolitan Police Firearms and Taser Reference Group, the ethical advisory board to NANOSMELL and a trustee of RELEASE. Amber is fluent in Spanish and is a visiting lecturer at the University of Barcelona.
Amber’s principal area of research is at the intersection between science, criminal justice and human rights. She is a leading expert on the regulation of psychoactive substances, in the science of smell and its forensic applications and on criminal justice science and technology more broadly.
Amber has authored several academic publications as well as journalism and a critically acclaimed book, 'Headspace: Sniffer Dogs, Spy Bees and One Woman's Adventures in the Surveillance Society'.
Amber has given talks in the literary tents of Latitude Festival, Bestival and Laugharne. She is a regular contributor to The Guardian and Wired. Her articles have also appeared in The Times, Prospect and The Register, and she has worked as a columnist on criminal justice for The Big Issue and assistant editor for Benchmark. Amber has made several radio appearances (BBC Radio 4 and 3, Resonance FM, Talksport, Radio New Zealand) to discuss criminal justice and surveillance. In 2012 she co-wrote, co-produced and presented a BBC Radio 4 documentary on the science of smell.
A Gray's Inn scholar, she was called to the bar in 2000 and worked as a criminal barrister (3 Raymond Buildings and 3 Temple Gardens) before joining the Government Legal Service as a lawyer in the Criminal Appeal Office, and King’s College London as a Visiting Lecturer. She lectured on miscarriages of justice (Anglia Ruskin) and the English legal system (King’s College London) and taught criminal law (London School of Economics) before joining Queen Mary University of London.
Amber's primary research interests are in (i) Forensic Science and Policing Technology (ii) Drug Law (iii) Prostitution Law.
Forensic Science and Policing Technology
Amber researches both the relevance and reliability of forensic sciences as well as their impact on human rights and due process. Amber has provided talks and training on these issues to the legal professions of China, Canada and the UK and to scientific and stakeholder audiences in the UK and Germany. She has recently been commissioned by Oxford University Press to co-author a chapter on the regulation of technology in the criminal justice system.
Amber is Co-Chair of the Metropolitan Police Service Taser Reference Group.
Amber is the author of the principal legal publication on expert evidence of drug traces and the principal legal publication on sniffer dogs. Amber co-wrote and presented a BBC Radio 4 documentary on the forensic and surveillance applications of olfaction.
Amber is a co-founder of the multi-disciplinary network 'Bayes and the Law' that brings together world-class mathematicians, scientists, psychologists, legal academics and practitioners, police officers, journalists and lay people to collaborate on the issues surrounding the use of probabilistic reasoning in criminal law.
Amber is a visiting researcher at the University of Barcelona where she is presently researching Cannabis Associations in Catalunya.
Amber recently launched a series of events on The Future of Pharmacological Regulation at the Criminal Justice Centre. The first event was a conference jointly hosted with Drug Science to explore the regulatory options for New Psychoactive Substances. The second event was a seminar co-hosted by RELEASE on Cannabis Associations in Spain for visiting scholars from Latin America.
- February 2015: Amber Marks has released a preliminary sketch of her research regarding the legal landscape for cannabis social clubs in Spain. She is currently conducting legal analysis and empirical research in Spain and her findings will be published in due course. Download the briefing here.
Legal Opinions and Briefing Papers
- Amber Marks co-authored a legal opinion for the Mexican Supreme Court decision on cannabis clubs. The opinion can be read here.
- Amber Marks, Headspace: Sniffer Dogs, Spy Bees and One Woman's Adventures in the Surveillance Society (2008) Virgin Books
- Reviews of Amber's book: Times Higher Education
Articles and Chapters
- Marks, A et al (2015). 'Automatic Justice? Technology, Crime and Social Control'. The Oxford Handbook of the Law and Regulation of Technology, ed R. Brownsword, E. Scotford and K. Yeung. OUP
- Marks, A (2015) 'In Search of Headspace: Sniffing Out the Boundaries of Privacy' Non Liquet : The Westminster Online Working Paper Series, Law and the Senses: The Smell Issue 2015, 42-57
- A.Marks and O.Casals, Proceso de regulación de clubes sociales de cannabis en Catalunya 2014-2015 (Regulatory Process of Cannabis Clubs in Catalonia 2014-15), Informe, 170/2014
- Marks, A (2013). 'Expert evidence of drug traces: relevance, reliability and the right to silence.' Criminal Law Review 10, 810-825.
- Marks, A et al (2008). 'Crime Control Technologies: Towards an Analytical Framework and Research Agenda.' Regulating Technologies, ed. R. Brownsword, K. Yeung. Oxford: Hart.
- Marks, A (2007). 'Neuromancing the law: Regulating the techno-regulators'. The Register, 16 April 2007.
- Marks, A (2006). 'Drug detection dogs and the growth of olfactory surveillance: Beyond the rule of law?' Surveillance and Society, 4, 257-271.
Selected Legal Journalism
- 'Don't Kill Me: Can we trust new weapons that are supposed to be non-lethal?' Prospect, 4 July 2009.
- 'Smells Suspicious.' The Guardian, 31 March 2008.
- Trustee for the charity RELEASE
- Member of the Firearms and Taser Reference Group
- Member of Ethical Advisory Board for NanoSmell.
- House of Commons Home Affairs Committee Report on the Psychoactive Substances Bill makes several references to the submission by Amber Marks. The text of Amber’s submission can be read here.
- Amber Marks quoted in OZY article 'Italy Blazes a Trail For Legal European Weed', 9 October 2015.
- Amber Marks spoke at UCL Forum entitled 'Privacy, Secrecy and Surveillance' (from page 12), 22 May 2015.
- Amber Marks’s case-reports on recent decisions in the Spanish courts and her analysis of attempts by local government to regulate cannabis clubs have been widely reported in the Spanish press, including Canamo and El Pais, March 2015.
- Amber was appointed Co-Chair of the Metropolitan Police Service Taser Reference Group.
- Amber gave a public talk on ‘Definitions of a Prostitute’ at the ADO exhibition at the Londonewcastle Project Space in Shoreditch.
- Amber was a panelist in the public debate ‘Who’s in Control?’ at the Centre for Mind in Society at QMUL.
- VICE speaks to Amber Marks about Catalonia’s Ground-Breaking New Weed Law
24 July 2017
- Amber Marks featured in VICE article on ‘Why Sniffer Dogs Should Be Banned at Clubs and Festivals’
21 July 2017
- QMUL Law academics sign letter claiming Investigatory powers bill not up to the task
15 March 2016
- Amber Marks speaks at an event on 'Probability and Statistics - Perspectives from the Legal Profession'
12 February 2016
- Amber Marks co-authors amicus curiae brief in the Mexican marijuana case
5 November 2015
- Amber Marks interviewed by BBC Radio 4 on the benefits of Spanish Cannabis Social Clubs
4 March 2015
- Amber Marks takes part in the TNI Dialogue Series on Drug Policy in Spain
18 October 2014
- Amber Marks debates Privacy, Secrecy and Surveillance at UCL Legal and Political Theory Forum
28 May 2014
- Amber Marks presents 'The role of science in the courtroom' at Canadian Provincial Court Judges conference
3 October 2013
- What are you reading? Criminologist reviews book by QM's Amber Marks
19 September 2013
- Amber Marks presents BBC Radio 4 show 'Sniffing out Danger'
19 June 2012