VANCOUVER - The new top cop in charge of the RCMP in British Columbia says one of his first tasks is to take on allegations of bullying and harassment by female officers.

Assistant Commissioner Craig Callens was named head of E-Division on Friday and said the force needs to make "serious changes" to deal with the allegations.

"What I need to ensure is that we create an environment within the RCMP nationally, and specifically in British Columbia, that victims of harassment feel safe and come forward in a timely way," said Callens.

The force in British Columbia is the largest in the country and includes about 6,000 officers.

It has been battered in recent years by scandals, the most recent being allegations from a high-profile officer of constant sexual harassment.

Cpl. Catherine Galliford, who was the spokeswoman and public face of the RCMP during its investigations into the Air India bombing and the Robert Pickton serial murders, painted a horrific picture of louche behaviour among some of her male colleagues.

Galliford has been off duty on sick leave since 2007 and says the work environment finally broke her. She has compiled a 115-page internal complaint.

Since her explosive media interviews last month, other women members of the force have told similar stories.

Callens said at a news conference Friday that while Mounties need to focus on stopping crime, there also needs to be an improvement in members' behaviour.

He said part of his job will be to "ensure that we are taking decisive action to deal with those that don't meet our expectations and the expectations of British Columbians, and as I've indicated, modify that behaviour, or remove those individuals from the organization."

Commissioner Bob Paulson, who was installed in the country's top RCMP job earlier this week, said the issue needs quick and decisive attention.

Callens joined the RCMP in 1985, the third generation of Mounties in his family.

He has spent his career in British Columbia working on major investigations including homicides.