Crackdown on illegal tattooists

tattooistMy Environmental Health Officers and police have joined forces to urge members of the public to attend registered tattoo studios following raids on eight illegal tattooists working from their own homes in the past year.

Sheffield City Council’s Health and Safety Enforcement Team, accompanied by officers from South Yorkshire Police, seized tattoo machines, needles and inks from the unregistered tattooists using their homes in the Jordanthorpe, Parson Cross, Stocksbridge, High Green and Hillsborough areas of Sheffield.

The raids were carried out after council officers received information from members of the public about children as young as 13 years old being tattooed at home addresses. Officers had also been made aware of a man who was hospitalised suffering from hepatitis C after having three tattoos inked by an unregistered tattooist.

None of the tattooists had proper licences from the council. Under the law anyone found acting as an unlicensed tattooist can face fines of up to £1,000 if convicted by magistrates.

Councillor Jack Scott, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene, said:

“Officers register and inspect tattoo and piercing premises to ensure they reach the required hygiene standards. Although we have found this is not a bigger problem in Sheffield compared to other cities, we are taking a proactive approach to clamping down on illegal activity.

“We found evidence of poor hygiene standards with disposable needles being reused, leading to a risk of dangerous infection and blood borne diseases such as hepatitis B and C and HIV being passed on.

“Home tattooists, known as scratchers, have little or no experience of infection control. They purchase their equipment cheaply from the internet and often advertise their activities on social networking sites.

“The safest thing is for everyone wanting a tattoo or piercing is to go to a registered studio. Legitimate owners display a certificate from the council on the premises to reassure customers they are safe.”

I’m urging people to continue to come forward with information about possible illegal tattooists working from residential properties to help the council and police.

For more information or to report an unregistered tattooist call Sheffield City Council Health and Safety on (0114) 273 5774 / 273 4415 or email