A new initiative has been launched to rate tattoo parlours on their hygiene to help raise standards.
The North East England Tattoo Hygiene Rating Scheme was developed by the region’s seven local authorities, including North Tyneside Council.
Businesses are inspected by an environmental health officer and then allocated a rating award of between one and five – one represents unsatisfactory and five is excellent.
Michael Yeadon, chairman of the North East Environmental Health Chief Officers Group, said: “Tattooing has undergone a surge in popularity in recent years and the number of tattoo parlours providing this service has grown at a similar rate.
“Anyone involved in the tattoo industry must be registered with their local authority, however, at present there is no means of comparing hygiene standards available to the consumer.
“This new rating system aims to offer a consistent, straightforward means of rewarding the good tattooists.”
All of the region’s 250 registered tattoo businesses are being invited to join the scheme. The first business to be awarded a rating of five is Custom Coast Tattoos in Whitley Road, Whitley Bay.
Garry Rowley, tattooist manager at Custom Coast Tattoos, said: “I think the scheme is brilliant idea.
“I’ve felt for some time that there should be this form of accreditation scheme to raise standards across the industry and ensure customers are better informed.
“I pride myself on being as hygienic as possible. We wear masks and gloves, use fully disposable kit and everything in the studio has protective covers to the extreme.”
“I’m really proud that we’re the first studio in the North East to receive the five rating. I’ll be displaying it on our window.”
All businesses are required by legislation to achieve a basic level of cleanliness and hygiene. Any found to have fallen below that level will be required to address those deficiencies without delay.
However, this scheme seeks to provide an incentive for businesses to strive for excellence.
If a participating business feels that their standards have improved since their last rating visit and at least three months have passed since that visit, they can request a re-rating.
All tattoo businesses, whether participating in the scheme or not, are still able to access information and advice from their local authority.
If members of the public have any concerns regarding unregistered or illegal tattooing or any concerns regarding practice they are urged to contact their local environmental health department.