Lawyers have welcomed the appointment of a Crown Prosecution Service insider as the next director of public prosecutions.

Alison Saunders will take up the post when Keir Starmer QC steps down at the end of his five-year term in October.

Saunders, a barrister who is currently chief crown prosecutor for London, joined the CPS in 1986 and is the first DPP to be appointed from within its ranks.

The chairman of the Law Society’s criminal law committee, Richard Atkinson, and Bill Waddington, chairman of the Criminal Law Solicitors Association, praised the appointment of an internal candidate.

They predicted that she would face difficult challenges, but said they looked forward to working with her.

Saunders will head an organisation still reeling from 25% budget cuts and enduring a period of modernisation. She will also have to maintain public confidence in an agency that has faced accusations about the quality of prosecutors and the timeliness with which it deals with cases.

Bar Council chairman Maura McGowan said Saunders would bring ‘new and different skills’ to the job that will make her a ‘great success’.

McGowan expressed ‘every confidence’ that Saunders would maintain the CPS’s strong links with the independent bar.