Council warns against unlicensed tattooists and body piercers

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Horsham district residents are being warned to stay away from unlicensed tattooists and body piercers amid concerns that a growing number are operating in the area.

Horsham District Council has recently dealt with a number of complaints about unlicensed tattooists and body piercers.

These illicit businesses usually operate from private homes whereas licensed tattooists and body piercers usually operate from commercial premises.

There are major health risks if the piercer has not properly sterilised their equipment, which can range from minor skin irritations to serious blood-borne viruses like hepatitis and HIV.

Unlicensed practitioners are often more lax when it comes to checking the age of customers - under 18s cannot have tattoos in the UK.

They are also less likely to ask about the medical history of their customers, something which could determine whether the procedure is carried out.

Anyone who thinks they might have had a tattoo or body piercing carried out by an unlicensed person is strongly advised to visit their GP for a health check.

It is an offence for anyone to do tattoos or body piercing without a licence and equipment can be seized and destroyed by the local authority.

Council staff ensure that licensed operators have the correct training and qualifications and also check equipment and hygiene standards to make sure everything is safe.

There are a number of things customers can check to keep themselves safe, these include:

• Always choose an establishment that is licensed with the local authority and is spotlessly clean

• Check that all equipment is sterilised and don’t be afraid to ask how they sterilise

• Equipment should be sterilised in a special machine called an autoclave. Sterilisers used for baby bottles are not adequate

• Make sure tattoos are done with new needles. If you don’t see the needle removed from a sealed package, walk away

• The tattoo artist or body piercer should always wash their hands and put on a fresh pair of medical-type gloves before each new procedure

• Check whether the person you’re dealing with has undergone recognised training and qualifications

Sue Rogers (Con, Steyning), HDC’s cabinet Mmmber for a safer and healthier district, said: “It might be tempting to have a tattoo or piercing done at a cut price, maybe by a friend of a friend. But it’s vital that people realise how dangerous it can be to use an unlicensed piercer.

“Licensed businesses are subject to checks by Council staff and can be closed down if hygiene standards aren’t maintained.

“Unlicensed operators face none of these checks and you have no idea how competent the person is. No tattoo or piercing is worth risking your health for, especially when there are plenty of licensed businesses to choose from.”

For all enquiries, or if anyone has details of unlicensed tattooists or body piercers, contact HDC by emailing publichealth.licensing@horsham.gov.uk or call 01403 215641. All information is treated in the strictest confidence.