Recently an article citing health experts warning of the risks of infection made it onto the BBC website. The main points made are that the regulations surrounding tattooing need to be revisited and the possibility of tattooers taking an infection control course as part of their licensing. Obviously this is only about regulations in the UK. The article referred to a report by the Royal Society for Public Health.
You can actually skip the BBC article if you fancy reading the the RSPH article below. They definitely didn’t let us down with the cringe title ‘Skins and Needles’, the author must be so proud.
That aside it’s an ok read, something for the layman to digest so they get their point across on why they’re making these proposals. It also covers other procedures like piercing (particularly dermal piercings), botox and fillers.
Reading it you come to the conclusion that tattooing in the UK is in for a make over. Stricter licensing and regulations and some kind of qualifications for tattooing. There’s also mention of banning the online sale of tattoo products to non-licensed tattooers, something the community has been wanting for years now, as usual government regulation and bureaucracy move at a snails pace so I’m not holding my breath.
If it’s going to make tattooing safer for the general public then this is a fantastic idea, it will also make it a little more difficult for people to just order a tattoo kit, pay a license fee and start their own studio, it’ll mean more effort and knowledge on tattooing, hygiene and infection control, so that can only be a good thing, in a way it gives tattooing a little more credibility as a trade/art.
Of course none of this matters if the proposed certification doesn’t address the real problems and it’s just a pay, attend, get the t-shirt kind of thing. It’ll matter even less if the proposed regulations aren’t followed through by Environmental Health and enforced with spot checks on studios and penalties, then its just window dressing so it looks like the organisations involved are doing their job to protect the consumer.
Either way, with no real organisation representing tattooers in the UK we could be in for a rough ride with no way to get in on the conversation and make suggestions on the up and coming regulations. I know we have the Tattoo and Piercing Industry Union (TPIU) but let’s be honest, they’re about as useless as a cup of decaf.
If you’re tattooing in the UK and curious about what the future might hold in terms of regulation in your area then your best bet is to contact your local authority/council/borough and speak to someone in the Environmental Health department, see if they know what’s up. You definitely get the feeling that the wheels are in motion for a shake up in the tattoo industry though.