CHANGING police culture is a bigger challenge than vetting, says Oxford's policing boss.

Matthew Barber, who was elected as Police Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley in May, reflected on what the force is doing to make women and girls in the area feel safe.

Police across the UK are currently under pressure to rebuild trust in communities after Sarah Everard, 33, was kidnapped, raped and murdered by serving Metropolitan Police Officer, Wayne Couzens.

Mr Barber told the Oxford Mail that Thames Valley Police is working hard to help protect women and girls from violence.

This week almost half a million pounds was provided by the Government to make the county's streets safer – particularly at night.

Mr Barber said the £426,000 would be used to focus on making Oxford’s ‘night time economy’ safer, but also looking at making travel routes from Abingdon, Witney and other areas of South Oxfordshire to the city safer.

He said: “The new project will look at the whole night time economy journey – linked specifically with Witney and Abingdon, which is focusing on making women feel safe when they come out in Oxford.

“It’s all very well making people feel safe in Oxford, but we also need to look at bus routes, and the big towns that send people into Oxford.

“We need to make sure the work is also in place in Witney and Abingdon and the other big towns.”

Calls are currently being made for vetting procedures within the police to be reviewed after the Met Police admitted it made errors during the recruitment of Couzens.

When asked about the issue, Mr Barber said: “I think vetting is really important – but we cannot just focus on vetting.

“We already will vet people when they move between jobs in the force, but we will look again at that and take reassurances that we are doing it all to the national standard, which I believe we are.

“The bigger challenge is around culture, and the Wayne Couzens case referred lots to Whatsapp groups.

“That’s the bigger thing – vetting will only ever give you that snapshot of time of what you know about someone when you review them to join the force.

“It doesn’t prove or show what they might be thinking, or how they are behaving – so as important is getting the culture right within the organisation.”

Mr Barber said this includes other serving police officers reporting colleagues inappropriate behaviour - which he says already happens at TVP.

He said he would not say the culture is currently ‘all perfect’ and that the force cannot be ‘complacent’, but insisted things were ‘turning in the right direction’.