Think before you ink! That's the message to young people in Plymouth who may be thinking about getting a tattoo.
Plymouth City Council have just launched a joint campaign, which warns that anyone who gets a tattoo under the age of 18 is breaking the law and could be putting their health at risk.
The campaign was developed with the support of the Plymouth Safeguarding Children Board, to encourage young people to wait until they are 18 before getting a tattoo and to never use unregistered tattooists.
Councillor Philippa Davey, Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities said: "It is vital that young people understand the law regarding underage tattoos and the risks to health by approaching unregistered tattooists.
"A reputable and registered tattooist will know it's illegal to tattoo anyone under the age of 18. However, we know there are unregistered tattooists operating who are breaking the law".
Public Protection officers will give presentations to all Year 12 and 13 students across the city and explain it's against the law to get a tattoo if you’re under the age of 18.
They will also talk about the health risks of using an unregistered tattooist, because the premises will not have been inspected or the equipment checked. It could lead to a serious infection, disease or being permanently scarred.
Public Protection officers launched the project to a group sixth form students at Sir John Hunt Community Sports College.
Assistant Head of Sixth Form at St John Hunt, Stuart Fort said: “The presentation was a huge success, with students coming away from the session with the knowledge and understanding of the dangers of illegal tattoos.
"A number of students know friends who have had tattoos before they are 18 and it is important that they fully understand the risks involved. We hope that this campaign will raise awareness and encourage people to report unregistered tattooists.”
Michael Hicks, owner of Spike at the Art, who is a member of the Tattoo Hygiene Rating Scheme, said: “We are very supportive of this campaign. We get a lot of young people in our studio that have been tattooed before they were 18 and want to cover it up.
"Some tattoos are difficult to cover up and it is very upsetting to see the shocking tattoos that have been done by unregistered tattooists, sometimes friends or family, with no experience.
"I would urge anyone wanting a tattoo to ensure they spend time visiting tattoo studios to find the right tattoo artist for them and design a tattoo that they will be happy with for the rest of their lives.”