Sir Stephen Lander (born 1947) joined the Service in 1975 after an academic career. He became Director General in 1996. During his time in office, the Service saw major changes. These included a move into work on serious crime and the start of open advertising for recruits, which produced a huge public response.
He retired from the Service in 2002. He next became the Law Society's Independent Commissioner. In 2004 he became the Chairman-Designate of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), a body which was operational between 1 April 2006 and 7 October 2013. He continued in that role until he retired in July 2009. (SOCA was superseded by the National Crime Agency in October 2013).