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LGA - Parents warned to be vigilant for rogue tattooists as councils crack down

Parents are being warned to be vigilant for children and teenagers visiting rogue tattooists and buying kits over the internet as part of a celebrity-fueled craze for 'inking'.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents over 370 councils in England and Wales, says authorities up and down the country are clamping down on illegal tattooists, some of whom are advertising on social media sites.

With children and teenagers exposing themselves to hepatitis, HIV, bacterial skin infections, blood poisoning and scarring, council environmental health teams are carrying out raids and urging web giants to provide warnings to children on the dangers of using DIY tattoo kits – which sell online for as little as £24.

It is illegal to work as a tattooist without registering with the local council, and to tattoo someone under the age of 18, even with their parents' consent. Tattooists who ignore the law can also be prosecuted under health and safety legislation, which can lead to a £20,000 fine or jail sentence.

Cllr Tony Page, the LGA's licensing spokesman said:

"It is extremely concerning that rogue operators are increasingly exploiting children's and teenagers' urges to copy celebrities and have tattoos. Social media sites also need to do much more to warn about the dangers.

"We urge parents to be vigilant and explain to their children just how dangerous tattooing can be.

"Anyone using an unregistered tattooist risks serious skin irritations and infections such as MRSA or viruses like Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV. It is illegal for children to be tattooed and councils will seek the toughest possible sanctions – including prison sentences – against rogue tattooists.

"With most tattooists running reputable businesses and taking their responsibilities seriously, this criminal behaviour drags the industry down."

Case studies


teenage boy has been caught using his bedroom as an illegal tattoo parlour to ink his friends, after advertising his services on Facebook. Up to 15 children – some as young as 13 – paid the DIY tattooist their £5 pocket money for the 'body art' while his unsuspecting parents watched television downstairs. Meanwhile, Blackpool Council has introduced a new voluntary scheme to help regulate the growing tattoo market and the first inspections have been carried out.


Wrexham Council and North Wales Police are warning of the dangers posed by illegal tattooists – or ‘scratchers' as they are known in the trade – after a joint investigation led to police officers arresting a man.


Tattoo equipment has been seized as two more ‘scratchers' have been raided through the Council's Operation Itchy. It's part of a continued crackdown on illegal tattooists known as ‘scratchers' who have bought a tattoo kit over the internet and tattoo without the proper training or awareness of hygiene.

Vale of Glamorgan

Parents and tattooists have been reminded that it is illegal to tattoo someone under the age of 18. The Vale of Glamorgan Council is reminding parents and tattooists about the laws surrounding tattoos and children.


A Tamworth tattooist says she has had rows with local parents who have tried to persuade her to illegally tattoo their young teenagers – some as young as 13.

Tattoo kits

Tattoo kit for just £24

Background – Tattooing health

As tattooing and body piercing becomes more common, improper or unsanitary methods used in these procedures can carry health risks.

Public Health England guidance – on the .gov website

The law

  • The Tattooing of Minors Act 1969. This prohibits the tattooing of those under 18, and the offence is punishable by a fine.
  • The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982. Under this Act local authorities are responsible for regulating and monitoring businesses offering tattoos. It is an offence punishable by a fine to operate without being registered.
  • Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act places duties on employers/self-employed people to ensure that in carrying out their work they do not expose people who they do not employ to risks to their health and safety. Failing to discharge this duty can result in up to two years in prison and a fine if in the Crown Court, and a prison sentence of up to a year and a fine in the Magistrates' Court. Prosecutions in a Magistrates Court under health and safety legislation can lead to a maximum fine of £20,000 for companies and £5,000 for individuals
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