Councils in England want a crackdown on illegal tattooists

Cheap prices are attracting children

 Reuters/Daniel Becerril

Local Councils in the UK are calling for harsher sentences for illegal tattooists as they have warned that they are offering cheap prices for their services to children.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils, said the problem was rising because tattoo equipment was becoming more widely available and less expensive to buy.

Although you have to be 18 to have a tattoo or tattoo someone else, it is not illegal to tattoo yourself.

The LGA want online retailers to give warnings to children about the dangers of using do-it-yourself tattoo kits, which can be bought for less than £25.

A councillor has said that ‘this issue is becoming more rife as people set up businesses from home and tattoo equipment is becoming more widely available and cheaper on the internet.’’

‘We are urging young people under 18 and adults not to visit illegal tattooists or tattoo their friends or themselves using cheap tattoo equipment obtained online because the health risks are too great and there may be safeguarding concerns about the premises they are visiting.’’

Unlicensed tattooists, also known as scratchers, often work from home in kitchens or garden sheds and advertise their services on social media.  The councillor also said "they can use unsterilised equipment that seriously increases the risk of spreading diseases such as hepatitis or HIV, and causing permanent, ugly scarring.’’

For instance, Wrexham County Borough Council prosecuted a man for illegally tattooing children in his home at ‘pocket money prices’ to children. He was fined a total of £600 for six offences and a court order was issued for the destruction of his tattooing equipment.

Another example was when Durham County Council prosecuted two scratchers after officers raided three homes as part of its ‘Catch a Scratcher’ campaign.

During the raids, officers found more than 30 bags of equipment including 15 tattoo machines and hundreds of needles, many of which were out of date.

Those who ignore the law can also be prosecuted under health and safety legislation, which can lead to a £20,000 fine or a jail sentence.

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