Halton Borough Council has launched a campaign against illegal tattooists - after finding some tattooing children and operating without proper hygiene
In the last few months, seven warrants have been executed at addresses in the borough with support from Cheshire Police. Tattooing equipment has been seized from five illegal tattooists effectively preventing them from operating.
In many cases the tattooists were found to be operating from the bedroom of a house, without the necessary facilities for cleaning and disinfection.
The campaign followed a number of complaints from members of the public including the parents of children who had been tattooed illegally. It is illegal to tattoo a person under the age of 18.
Halton Borough Council's Principal Environmental Health Officer, Stephen Burrows, said “Tattooists must be licensed with the local authority. It is illegal for a tattooist to operate without a license.
"Any procedure that involves the piercing of the skin presents a risk of infection from blood borne viruses such as HIV or hepatitis and other bacterial infections.
"As part of the licensing process operators must comply with strict hygiene standards to ensure customers are protected from infection. This campaign has demonstrated that we will deal firmly with illegal tattooists to protect public health”.
Cllr Stef Nelson, Executive Board member for Environmental Services said: “Illegal tattooists are putting the public at risk of infection from HIV or hepatitis.
"I would urge the public to ensure they only use tattooists that are licensed with the authority. The license ensures the operator is complying with the strict hygiene standards required to prevent infection.
"I would also urge the public to contact the environmental health department in confidence to report tattooists that are operating illegally or tattooing children”.
This direct action against illegal tattooists will now be followed up with a social media campaign warning the public of the dangers of using illegal tattooists and encouraging the public to use the licensed operators.
The Environmental Health Department can be contacted on 0151 511 7544. A list of licensed tattooists can be found at http://www3.halton.gov.uk/business/healthandsafety/298792/