Illegal Tattoo Artists ‘Putting Children at Risk’
Illegal tattoo artists selling designs at ‘pocket money’ prices are putting children at risk of contracting hepatitis and HIV, council bosses have warned.
Unlicensed tattooists, known as scratchers, use cheap equipment to offer tattoos inked in kitchens and gardens. They often target children and adults with their low prices, council leaders from the Local Government association said. Experts warn the equipment – which is often bought online – is often dirty and unsterilised, putting people at risk of virus and infections.
Fuelled by celebrity culture, tattoos are booming in popularity. One in three people aged 25 to 34 now have a tattoo, and more than 1,500 licensed parlours are currently in operation.
Illegal tattooists are riding the wave of this boom, council officers said. Durham County Council recently prosecuted two scratchers after officers raided three homes as part of its ‘Catch a Scratcher’ campaign. A further man accepted a caution and two other illegal operators voluntarily surrendering their equipment. During the raids, officers seized more than 30 bags of equipment including 15 tattoo machines and hundreds of needles, many of which were out of date. A fast food bucket was being used to store contaminated waste and there were no suitable sterilisation measures in place at the premises. Wrexham County Borough Council also prosecuted a man for illegally tattooing children in his home at ‘pocket money prices’ to children.
He was fined a total of £600 (F$1589.29) for six offences and a court order was issued for the destruction of his tattooing equipment. Peterborough City Council recently secured its first jail sentence against an illegal tattooist who was jailed for 16 weeks and ordered to pay costs of £260 (FJ$595) after ignoring warnings from the council to register his home-based parlour. The man also did not have adequate infection procedures in place, putting his clients at risk of infection.
Experts warn the equipment used by illegal traders is often dirty and unsterilised, putting people at risk of virus and infections.