Middlemen are being recruited to help prostitutes find customers in Shamshuipo in order to counter police operations against the vice trade, officers said yesterday. The middlemen are paid as little as $10 a client and work for mainland and Thai prostitutes, according to the Shamshuipo district commander, Chief Superintendent Larry Lung Hung-cheuk. 'They work in the streets together with street sex workers who stand aside or in a corner. They will ask male passers-by whether they are fine and then tout sex services on behalf of the prostitutes,' he said. Mr Lung said prostitutes had adopted the tactic in response to a series of police measures taken against prostitution in Shamshuipo over the past four months. 'These men work for street sex workers but do not control them. They include drug addicts and jobless men,' he said. Last Friday, a 40-year-old man was arrested and charged with soliciting for immoral purposes after being caught helping a prostitute to find a client in the district. He was jailed this week for two months after pleading guilty. The number of prostitutes arrested in Shamshuipo increased by 30 per cent from 602 in 1999 to 783 last year. In response to the rise and complaints from residents, the police launched a crackdown on vice in the district last October. Shamshuipo District Council member Leung Lai said the situation had improved since October. He said fewer prostitutes had been found soliciting on the streets since the police began their crackdown, although he admitted the problem had not been wiped out. Police said they would continue to mount joint operations with the Immigration Department.