A businesswoman who runs a legitimate tattoo parlour has claimed rogue ‘body painters’ are giving the professions a bad name.
Mary Benfell, boss of the Heaven ’n’ Hell studio in Falkirk High Street hit out in the week a 51-year-old man appeared in court charged with tattooing without a licence.
He was arrested after Central Scotland Police were tipped off and raided an illegal ‘tattoo party’ at his house in the Falkirk area last Thursday.
It is understood the person he tattooed was over 18, but police have been told children as young as nine might have attended other ‘parties’ across Falkirk district.
Ms Benfell, a qualified body piercer who employs four trained tattooists, said: “These people generally work from home, have no training and haven’t been examined or passed by environmental health.
“We have to work to quite stringent rules, but these parties are held in someone’s back kitchen. It’s like a Tupperwear party with tattoos.
“It is also illegal when you are talking about under-18s and one of the big concerns is it is a fantastically easy way to contract hepatitis C. Eventually something nasty is going to happen at one of these parties and we will all be tarred with the same brush.
“Our prices start at around £30 but these people are just doing it for as little as £5 and don’t care about the consequences. People have been tattooed by someone who did not know what they were doing and been scarred.
“We’ve repaired tattoos that have gone wrong, but in some cases not been able to do anything because they were under the legal age of 18 to have a tattoo in the first place.”
Public health consultant Dr Henry Prempeh, who works with NHS Forth Valley, warned of the dangers. He said: “Getting a tattoo can lead to serious infection if it is not done with clean equipment and under safe conditions by a properly trained tattoo artist.
“The risks increase significantly if tattooing is carried out in premises that are not fit for purpose and regularly maintained such as a licensed tattoo parlour. The use of inadequately sterilised equipment or contaminated pigments can also result in blood borne infections such as hepatitis B or C and HIV the virus which causes AIDS.”
A spokesman for Falkirk Council said: “The council is responsible for licensing the activities of skin piercing and tattooing. Licences can be issued to an individual or company to operate from fixed premises, home or peripatetically. To date, Falkirk Council has only issued licences to fixed premises. Environmental Health Officers ensure that the premises used are suitable and hygienic and that the licence holder has proper procedures in place in relation to all aspects of infection control.”