On appointment to her new role as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Alison Saunders becomes the second Leeds alumni to lead the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Saunders graduated from the School of Law with a Bachelor of Laws in 1982 before going on to pursue a prolific legal career within the CPS. In her new role as DPP, Saunders replaces fellow Leeds alumni Kier Starmer QC, who also graduated from Leeds with a Bachelor of Laws.
Saunders, formally the Chief Crown Prosecutor for London, also breaks new ground in her appointment as DPP, being the first internal candidate to win the position. Commenting on the significance of her selection, Saunders states: "It shows the CPS has come of age. We are now seen as an organisation of good performing people. We have some really good lawyers and we are now able to produce our own leader. The service is very different from when I first joined."
Saunders’ appointment has also been welcomed by leading criminal practitioners such as Stephen Parkinson, head of criminal law at Kingsley Napley, who described her as “a first-class lawyer with great experience and a thorough understanding of the way the CPS works. This appointment is not only good for Alison, but good for the CPS too”.
In a recent interview with the Guardian, Saunders outlines her priorities during her five-year term as leader of the CPS. She will be looking to improve communication with victims, invest in internal training and upgrade the quality of casework produced. She has also pledged to raise the conviction rate in rape cases through a network of new victim liaison units.
Saunders feels that the biggest challenge in her new role will be, “ensuring that we (CPS) and the legislation keep up to date with developments like social media."
In recognition of her highly successful legal career, Saunders was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 2013’s New Years Honours List "for services to law and order especially after the 2011 London riots".