College students and council chiefs have launched a Christmas poster campaign warning of the dangers of cut-price tattooists.
Creative arts students from Hartlepool College of Further Education have created images to highlight the risks of scarring and infection of using unqualified tattoo artists known as “scratchers”.
They are being used as posters in a social media campaign by the college which is being supported by consumer protection chiefs at Hartlepool Borough Council.
Lesley Huitson, of the council’s Public Protection Team, said: “We really appreciate the fantastic support from the students in our bid to clamp down on people offering cheap tattoos that can be ultimately harmful and dangerous.
“The powerful images on the posters they have produced show exactly what can go wrong if you don’t use a qualified and registered tattooist.
“You cannot cut costs when it comes to your health. You should always go to a bona fide tattoo parlour rather a ‘scratcher’.”
Students came up with a host of designs with the winning design selected by a judging panel which included tattoo artist Kez Hill from Intravenous Ink in Hartlepool and council representatives.
The council says scratchers tend to be unqualified who carry out a tattoo anywhere with no regard for hygiene.
It often means in a poor quality tattoo and the risk of infection and being scarred for life.
Not using sterilised equipment also carries the risk of passing infections from one client to another such as infections to serious blood-borne viruses, including HIV and hepatitis B and C.
Hartlepool Council was the first local authority in England to launch a voluntary Tattoo Hygiene Rating Scheme earlier this year.
Tattoo studios undergo a rigorous inspection from council environmental health officers before being given a one of four ratings ranging from one, which means improvement is needed, to the highest of four.
The scheme is designed to drive up standards and give assurance to customers about a premises hygiene levels.
Most tattoo studios in town sign up to the scheme and the first to be inspected all achieved the top rating.
Once inspected, tattoo studios receive a certificate and a window sticker showing their grading.
For further information on tattoo safety, visit www.hartlepool.gov.uk/tattoosafety