untrained tattooists are buying equipment on eBay - with terrifying consequences (Daily Mail)As the Mail helpfully points out, with illustrations, if you fancy setting up in business, you can buy a basic tattooing kit for £20-£30 on e-bay - no need to resort to redneck DIY.
If you want that added touch of respectability, you can even get a licence from the council. Never mind that you have no experience and you're a bit rubbish at drawing; as long as you have a wipeable surface, hot water and an autoclave for sterilising your kit, you could start tomorrow.
You might think that you'd have a problem finding someone foolhardy enough to allow you to have a go, but it seems there are plenty of willing victims out there; the Mail thoughtfully provides an assortment of stomach-churning photographs to prove the point.
This lack of regulation has worried one Kevin Paul, tattoo artist to the stars (well, someone called Harry Styles, apparently), who is lobbying Parliament for legislation to regulate the tattooing industry. From a public health perspective, he's certainly got a point:
‘People who are untrained in tattooing are unaware of the infections and diseases that can be caused by using cheap and unsterile equipment.
‘Permanent scarring to the skin can be caused if the tattoo is not done correctly and bloodborne diseases such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV can be spread.’And it seem only sensible to ensure that councils don't hand out licences without some industry-backed proof of training in safety and hygiene, as well as using existing legislation to prosecute anyone who tattoos a child.
But how much difference will it actually make? These dodgy tats are not, by and large, done in established studios; according to Mr Paul, the majority of culprits are working independently from home - or have even set up as mobile tattooists.
And anyone who chooses to get a cut-price tattoo in someone's kitchen or from a man in a van - "Burger and chips twice, mate, and can you do me a picture of Amy Winehouse just here" - is hardly likely to be swayed by the absence of a piece of paper from the council, which leaves us with the question of enforcement; how far should the state be involved?
Penalise the tattooee and you are likely to get people refusing to seek medical help until major complications have set in; prosecute the tattooer and it becomes an expensive game of testimony and proof played out through an already overburdened legal system.
It's one of those situations where the only practical thing to do is to ensure the public are fully informed - in this case, by a rigorous licensing system - and as well educated as possible in the dangers of using unlicensed practitioners.
And those who still patronise the charlatans should have only themselves to blame.