Barking and Dagenham tattoo and piercing safety warning

The council has warned residents about unlicensed tattoo artists and body piercers after a string of investigations revealed a number of illegal businesses in the borough.

The main danger stems from equipment which may not have been properly sterilised, according to the authority, and therefore could lead to skin irritations and to serious blood-borne viruses like hepatitis and HIV.

Barking and Dagenham Council dealt with around 10 investigations of unlicensed skin piercers in 2011. They usually operate from private homes, pubs, clubs or by visiting clients’ homes.

Anyone who thinks they might have had a tattoo or body piercing done by an unlicensed person should visit their GP for a health check.

Cllr Jeanne Alexander, cabinet member for crime, justice and communities, said: “It might be tempting to have a tattoo or piercing done on the cheap, maybe by a friend of a friend. But it’s vital that people realise how dangerous it can be to use an unlicensed piercer.

“Licensed businesses are subject to checks by the authorities and can be closed down if hygiene standards aren’t maintained. Unlicensed operators face none of these checks and you have no idea how competent the person is. No tattoo or piercing is worth risking your health for, especially when there are plenty of licensed businesses to choose from.”