A new initiative to assess the hygiene standards of tattoo artists has been launched in West Norfolk.
The voluntary scheme, which was piloted in Wales and is now being rolled out by councils across the country, is intended to improve standards in the industry.
Participating businesses are rated on a scale of one to four, where one is the minimum, two is a basic standard of hygiene, three is good and four is very good.
Six studios in the borough have already signed up to the programme and are encouraging others to follow suit.
One of the participants is Sean’s Body Art Studio in Norfolk Street, Lynn, which has been given the top rating of four.
Artist Sean Keegan said: “I was interested in signing up to the Tattoo Hygiene Rating Scheme as soon as I heard about it.
“I’ve been a tattoo artist for a long time, and I’ve always been proud of the high standard of hygiene in my studio.
“My regular customers know that I put time and money into maintaining my hygiene standards, and now, thanks to the rating I’ve received from the borough council, anyone thinking about coming to me for a tattoo will know it too.
“I’d encourage any other tattooists who are proud of their business to sign up. Getting tattoos is more popular than ever, so you need a way to make your business stand out from the crowd.”
Kate Wells, of Serenity Custom Tattoo Studio in Fincham, said: “I joined the scheme in order to help standardise the requirements of a clean and safe studio and help to establish a system that is simple for clients to interpret.
“By having a score system in place you allow clients, both new and existing, to make an informed choice about where they get tattooed.
“I have been a tattoo artist for seven years next month and have held registered premises for seven years in April.
“Although I work part time from a studio at my home I approached the environmental health team early in order to gain advice and support on how to practice and work safely.
“Unfortunately this is not always seen when people work from home and it is important that this is controlled for public health reasons.
“By introducing a scheme you allow for transparency and sharing of information which is vital in a trade involving health and safety.”
Hygiene ratings can be checked by searching for the word tattoo on the borough council’s website, www.west-norfolk.gov.uk, or with stickers displayed at participating outlets.
Adrian Lawrence, the authority’s cabinet member for housing and community, said the measure will help people to make an informed choice about the tattooist they choose.
He said: “Tattoos are a big commitment and can be costly to remove if they go wrong, so do some checks on whoever you ask to do yours.
“Always check they’re registered. All tattoo artists must be registered with their local authority, it’s the law. If they’re not registered, don’t give them your custom – report them to us.”