Tattooists in Sunderland must meet strict hygiene standards to become part of the City Council’s accreditation registration scheme.
Tattoo businesses in the city and across the region are being rated on their hygiene as part of a new scheme.
The scheme aims to raise standards and help the public make an informed choice on what studios to use.
The North East England Tattoo Hygiene Rating Scheme was developed jointly by Sunderland City Council working in partnership with the region’s other six local authorities.
It is similar to the Food Standards Agency’s Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, where businesses are inspected by an Environmental Health Officer and allocated a rating award of between one and five – one representing unsatisfactory and five being excellent.
Each business will be provided with a certificate for display inside the premises and a window sticker that states their rating, enabling prospective customers to immediately know its hygiene and cleanliness standards.
The information will also be available on each council website.
Sunderland City Council’s head of public protection and regulatory services, Tom Terret, said: “Over recent years it has become fashionable for people of all ages to get tattoos, and the number of new businesses being set up to meet the ever increasing demand continues to grow.
“There are obvious health implications to being tattooed, and people need to know what kind of hygiene standards are in place to protect them before agreeing to anything.
“We are committed to both consumer and heath protection, and the new rating system will help to ensure that tattoo business meet the exacting high standards expected of them and assure their customers that they are in safe hands.”
Chair of the North East Environmental Health Chief Officers Group, Michael Yeadon, added: “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 customer.
“This new rating aims to offer a consistent, straightforward means of rewarding the good performers, supporting those who are looking to improve, and informing members of the public. On behalf of all local authorities involved in the scheme we would encourage all tattoo business owners in the region to sign up to the scheme.”
The first businesses in Sunderland to be awarded a five star rating are Sunderland Body Art, Triple Six, Diamond Ink, Supafly Wills Tattooz, Robs Tattooz and Sacred Tattoos.
Owner of Sunderland Body Art in Grangetown, Charlie Wilson, said: “I think that this scheme is a fantastic idea and I fully support it.
“It’s long overdue that recognition of excellent standards should be acknowledged, and I’m very pleased to be the first tattoo studio in Sunderland to receive the five rating.
“I hope that this encourages all registered tattooists to sign up to the scheme, which in turn will raise hygiene standards throughout the region for the benefit of the customers.”
All of the regions 250 registered tattoo businesses are being invited to join the scheme.
If members of the public have any concerns regarding unregistered or illegal tattooing or any concerns regarding hygiene practices they are urged to contact their local Environmental Health department.