HUNDREDS of thousands of people are victims of stalking each year.

But a project to crack down on stalkers is now set to be rolled out across the county in a bid to “break a cycle of obsessions and harm”.

A team of specialists will support those charged or convicted of stalking across Hampshire in a bid to prevent them from offending again.

This comes after health bosses said criminal sanctions in isolation may not always resolve stalking behaviours.

According to the British Crime Survey, 120,000 people are victims of stalking in the UK each year.

Statistics suggest one in five women and one in ten men will be affected by stalking in their lifetime, while the National Stalking Helpline has responded to more than 14,000 calls since it was established in 2010.

Celebrities including pop star Rihanna and TV presenter Christine Lampard were victims of stalkers this year.

In May Rihanna’s home was broken into by a suspected stalker who allegedly spent 12 hours inside, while in June a man pleaded guilty to stalking Lampard.

She was sent tweets including “I can hear the scratch of nails as I sharpen them ahead of your crucifixion” and “I am planning the words that will go on your gravestone”.

Earlier this year a young Southampton woman told the Daily Echo how an “abusive” relationship “destroyed her life”.

The 21-year-old student, who did not want to be identified, fell victim to a three-year campaign of abuse at the hands of a man she believed was the love of her life.

But just months into her relationship with Amran Ahmed, she became trapped in a cycle of physical and emotional torment and said the abuse became a “24/7” occurrence.

She told the Echo it was when she decided to make a statement to police that she got her life back, and in June this year Ahmed, of Portswood Road, Southampton, pleaded guilty to stalking involving fear and violence.

The 27-year-old was given a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years, alongside a restraining order preventing him from contacting the victim.

Now Hampshire people who are experiencing obsessive or fixated thoughts and behaviours about others will work with a team of experts under a new scheme launched by a health trust yesterday.

The experts will involve a consultant forensic psychiatrist, a clinical psychologist, a forensic psychologist, an occupational therapist and a team administrator as part of the Recolo Project.

The initiative was launched yesterday by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.

It aims to help stalkers make positive behavioural changes by improving their psychological wellbeing, their relationships with other people and ultimately reducing the risks of unlawful stalking behaviour and the impact of this on potential victims.

Dr Kirsty Butcher, clinical lead for the new mental health service, said: “The Recolo Project is a really exciting new service that can help people in a number of ways, from initial assessment to a range of psychological and occupational therapies.

“Our team will also advise individuals about other services and support available to them.

“The end goal is changing negative and sometimes harmful behaviours, which will improve both their lives and importantly those of the people they’ve become fixated with.”

The team of Hampshire specialists will work alongside Hampshire Constabulary, Hampshire and Isle of Wight probation teams and Aurora New Dawn – a victim advocacy organisation – as part of a Multi-Agency Stalking Intervention Programme (MASIP).

Lucy Kay from Aurora New Dawn said: “We thrive on working in partnership to achieve the best possible outcomes for victims and survivors of stalking.

“Our focus is to ensure the victim’s voice is heard at every level of the intervention, so that they are never forgotten in the process. Stalking is a devastating crime that impacts on lives in unimaginable ways.

“Though we can support victims and survivors in their own safety, we recognise that work needs to be offered to those who stalk, in order to stop their behaviour.

“This is why multi-agency initiatives like The Recolo Project are essential in changing the lives of victims and their families.”

The scheme, coordinated by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, will run until March 2020 and is aimed at people over 18 living in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Rachel Griffin, chief executive for Suzy Lamplugh Trust, said: “We’re delighted to be working with partners in Hampshire on this innovative project to support victims of stalking and develop intervention programmes for perpetrators.

“This project aims to break the cycle of obsession, fixation and harm. Our hope is that we can reduce the impact that stalking has on victims.”

The scheme comes after the Hampshire Stalking Clinic last year secured funding of £670,000 to investigate the psychology behind the behaviour.

Detective Chief Inspector Suzette Allcorn said: “I am really pleased that we are part of the Recolo Project to further enhance our response to stalking and harassment.

“The Hampshire Stalking Clinic sees psychologists, psychiatrists, police, probation, the Crown Prosecution Service and a dedicated victim advocate come together to manage the unique risks posed by stalking.

“The Recolo Project will allow us to build on the work of the Clinic.

“It enables a more holistic approach to be taken, as criminal sanctions in isolation may not always resolve stalking behaviour.”

The Recolo Project is one of three services within MASIP – the other two being victim advocacy and the Hampshire Stalking Clinic.