The fight to stamp out illegal tattoo artists, sometimes known as “scratchers” in Plymouth has taken another step forward.
Barbican based tattoo studio Dust n’ Bones has become the first in the city to be a member of both the Tattoo Hygiene Rating scheme and Trading Standards Buy with Confidence scheme.
The new rating scheme to drive up tattoo hygiene standards was launched in September last year and is a voluntary scheme that enables the public to choose a tattooist that meets high standards of hygiene. Similar to the food hygiene rating scheme, following a local authority inspection each tattoo studio is awarded a rating from one, which means needing improvement, to four, which means very good.
Councillor Philippa Davey, Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities said: “This is the first tattoo studio to join the Buy with Confidence scheme. We only allow those with the top hygiene rating to be a member. Membership is not given lightly and Dust n’ Bones are committed to being an outstanding business and to trade fairly as well as safely.
“We are really lucky in Plymouth that we have lots of hugely talented tattoo artists who are committed to providing the best possible service to their clients. They are just as determined as we are to making sure people choose a professional registered tattoo studio to get inked.”
The rating system is based on good practice and goes beyond the legal requirements. The Council can remove the award should conditions in the premises fall below that necessary to maintain the rating.
Successful premises receive a Tattoo Hygiene Rating scheme certificate and a window sticker to display for members of the public to see and their details are available on the council’s website.
Owner of Dust n’ Bones Neil Pengilley said: “We are proud to be part of the scheme. We have some top tattooists in our studio who are very experienced and all take infection control very seriously. Being part of the Buy with Confidence Scheme helps our customers be reassured that we not only operate hygienically but we care about our customers and want to show that we have the relevant insurances in place.”
Councillor Davey continued: “It is very important to always use a registered tattooist. All of our registered tattooists have been audited to ensure they meet the required standards for infection control. Blood borne viruses are continuing to rise – in particular hepatitis B and C. It is essential that tattooists follow infection control procedures to protect their customers and themselves from spreading blood borne viruses and bacterial infections, which can lead to the person being scarred for life.”
Public protection officers have raided eight illegal tattooists homes in the 18 months and have found horrendous standards. The scratchers do not usually have a separate, clean room specially for tattooing and they tattoo people in their living room, bedroom or kitchen.
Disposable needles are often reused and officers have found baby bottle sterilisers being used to sterilise equipment, filthy settees used for the person to have the treatment, pets defecating on the equipment and needles and contaminated waste not being disposed of correctly.
If anyone is thinking of getting a tattoo wait until you are 18 and always use a registered tattooist listed on the Councils website www.plymouth.gov.uk/tattooists
An infection control course for tattooists and body piercers is being held on Tuesday 23 February 2016. If businesses are interested in joining the scheme or attending the training, please contact 01752 304741 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.