Mansfield District Council is running a new campaign to educate schoolchildren and students about the dangers of using an illegal unlicensed tattooist.
Three “scratchers”, as they are known, have been closed down in the Mansfield district in the past year and others are believed to be operating.
It is often schoolchildren who turn to them because they are usually the only tattooists who will tattoo a person under the age of 18, an illegal act which can attract a criminal charge of causing Actual Bodily Harm under the Tattoo of Minors Act.
This can mean those using them are putting themselves at greater risk of contracting serious and potentially fatal medical conditions such as hepatitis, HIV or septicaemia.
Portfolio holder for public protection at Mansfield District Council, Councillor Mick Barton, said: “Young people are particularly at risk which is why we are targeting schools in this education campaign.
“We would like both schools and individuals to let us know if they are aware of any illegal practices, so we can investigate.
“It is essential that premises are licensed to ensure tattoos are carried out safely. Just using a new needle each time is not enough to ensure a clean and sterile environment. Getting this wrong could lead to serious medical consequences.
“And a tattoo is for life and you should not assume you can remove it, as it is not always possible.”
The first education session will happen at The Brunts Academy, in Mansfield, on Tuesday 1 December. There will also be two more sessions at The Brunts Academy in January and February.
Garibaldi College in Forest Town and Vision West Nottinghamshire College are running sessions on Wednesday 2 December.
One unlicensed tattooist believed, wrongly, that printer ink was safe to use. Ink from printers contains heavy metals and is not sterile, resulting in a significant risk of blood poisoning and infection which can be disfiguring or life threatening.
It is hoped by educating young people at schools about these dangers it will deter them from seeking tattoos until they are legally of an age to have one done by a licensed operator.
Legitimate tattooists and premises are registered with the council, who check that the tattoos are being carried out in a clean and sterile environment.
The authority receives numerous complaints from licensed tattooists, who report scratchers operating illegally from their homes and advertising on social media.
If you are unsure as to whether a tattooist is licensed, you can check with the council’s Environmental Health team. The team also advises people seeking a tattoo to check the quality of the tattooist’s work before making a decision.