A TATTOO artist has welcomed a new scheme being launched in Hartlepool to raise the hygiene of studios across the town - the first of its kind.
A Tattoo Hygiene Rating Scheme (THRS) has been running in Wales since September last year but Hartlepool Borough Council will be the first local authority in England to launch such a scheme.
The voluntary scheme is designed to inform members of the public about the hygiene standards in individual premises, drive up standards and help combat the risk of incidents of infection and of transmission of infectious disease from tattooing.
Organisers say under the scheme, tattoo studios undergo a “rigorous inspection” from council environmental health officers before being rated in one of four categories. These are 1 - needs improvement. 2 - satisfactory. 3 - good and 4 - very good.
The large majority of tattoo studies in Hartlepool have agreed to sign up to the scheme and the first four to be inspected have all been given the top rating. These are Intravenous Ink, Wishful Inkin, Spy Monkey, and Copes Studio.
Paul Egan, who owns Wishful Inkin, in Murray Street, said he was delighted to be awarded the highest possible ranking.
Paul told the Mail: “We are certainly in favour of this.
“Hygiene in studios is obviouslly really important and it is the right thing to raise awareness and help improve and maintain standards.”
Labour councillor Carl Richardson, chairman of Hartlepool’s health and wellbeing board, said: “Tattoos are becoming increasingly prevalent and it is really important that we have the safest possible working practices in our town.
“I am pleased that local tattoo studios have embraced the scheme and it is very re-assuring that the first four inspected have all achieved the highest grade.”
There are lots of horror stories where people have had tattoos done by what are known as “scratchers,” who tend to be unqualified individuals who will carry out a tattoo anywhere with no regard for hygiene, often resulting in a poor quality tattoo, infection and people being scarred for life.
Once inspected, tattoo studios receive a certificate and a window sticker which clearly shows what their grading is. Studios can also appeal if they do not think that their grading is a fair one.
Paul Davison, deputy director of health protection for Public Health England in the North East said: “When tattooists or body-piercers don’t use sterile equipment there is a risk that infections can pass from one client to another. These can range from skin infections to serious blood-borne viruses, including HIV and hepatitis B and C.”
“As tempting as it might be to have it done cheaply, it’s simply not worth the risk.”