Environmental Public Health

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Environmental Public Health

Body Piercing and Tattooing

The popularity of body piercing and tattooing has increased greatly over the past 10-20 years, with the migration of these and some of the more extreme body modification processes (previously confined to subcultures and certain groups within society) into the wider population. Body modifications such as scarification, branding and beading, amongst others, are now being seen in different groups of society.

Concerns are often raised over the public health risks associated with these procedures. In an attempt to reduce these risks, the legislation covering these practices has been subject to review over the past few years. However, available legislation varies greatly depending on the procedure involved.

The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Skin Piercing and Tattooing) Order 2006 came into force in Scotland on 1 April 2006 and gives Local Authorities the power to license individuals who carry out skin piercing or tattooing activities as a business. The Order lays out a number of requirements in relation to key issues aimed at reducing, if not removing, risks to public health from these practices.

HPS provide advice to stakeholders on potential risks associated with individual practices. Additionally, a working group chaired by the Royal Environmental Public Health Institute for Scotland (REHIS) has produced an Implementation Guide to assist Local Authorities in implementing the Order, and provides information on best practice as well as specific requirements of the Order.

This document is intended to complement the Order and should be used by officers in conjunction with both the Order itself and the National Licence Conditions produced by the Scottish Licensing of Skin Piercing and Tattooing Working Group. Where recommendations exist within these documents that are not laid out in the Order itself, decisions may be made at a local level on the adequacy of compliance by a practitioner. However, best practice should always be recommended. Additional sources of information covering some aspects of the Order, which are complementary to these documents, are also referred to within this guide.