New by-laws to tighten up on tattooists and body piercers

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New by-laws to tighten up the way that tattooists and body piercers operate have been agreed by Central Bedfordshire Council.

They were approved by full council and will now need to be approved by the Department of Health following a further one-month consultation period.

The new legislation will replace the existing by-laws which are currently in force, and include tighter rules around body piercing, as well as the fact that all tattooists and piercers now require photo ID.

The change has been prompted by a rise in the number of ‘scratchers’, or unlicensed tattooists, who run the risk of transmitting blood-borne infections such as hepatitis and HIV by not using properly sterilised equipment.

Next month the council’s Environmental Health and Public Health teams will be launching a joint education campaign which will be rolled out across all middle and upper schools and colleges across Central Bedfordshire.

Aimed at children aged 12 and above, it is designed to fit into PSHE (personal, social and health and economic education) lessons, and will encourage youngsters to think about the wider issue of body image as well as providing information about safe choices and health risks associated with tattooing and piercing.

Cllr Brian Spurr, Executive member for Community Services explains “It is against the law for anyone under the age of 18 to get a tattoo but as a society we are getting increasingly ‘body conscious’, so we want young people to think before they get pierced or tattooed by someone who does not know what they are doing.

“The information packs will have everything teachers need to help deliver this message, and officers are also happy to visit schools and speak about the dangers of dodgy piercings and tattoos.”

People caught ‘scratching’ are liable to prosecution, and the council’s Environmental Health team is urging anyone who knows of unlicensed tattooists or body piercers to report them by calling 0300 300 8302 or email