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Illegal tattooist hit with court fine

An illegal tattooist operating from home addresses in Middlesbrough has been hit with a hefty court fine for putting his clients at serious risk.

In February and April this year, Environmental Health Officers investigated complaints made by members of the public about the hygiene standards used by Tony Learmount.

They found he had been operating at addresses in Rainsford Crescent and Park Lane without being registered with Middlesbrough Council and presented a risk of significant harm to human health.

In May the Council was granted an order at Teesside Magistrates’ Court preventing Learmount from operating from the premises with immediate effect, along with the seizure and destruction of all tattooing equipment.

More than 60 used tattoo needles and other used tattooing equipment were found at Rainsford Crescent, with used needles found in the external alleyway adjacent to the property on Park Lane.

Further investigation revealed that Learmount’s knowledge of infection control procedures required to carry out tattooing safely was very poor.

The rooms used did not contain a wash basin, hazardous waste procedures were inadequate, and methods for cleaning and sterilising equipment were also inadequate, putting clients at serious risk.

Judith Hedgley, Middlesbrough Council’s Head of Public Protection, said: “Many people assume the tattooists they are visiting are legal, registered and meet the expected standards – but inadequate premises and equipment and poor hygiene practices expose them to serious risks.

“Tattooing involves puncturing the skin with a needle, and with this comes the risk of serious and possibly life-threatening blood-borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis.

“Unregistered tattooists are also damaging the trade of legitimate tattooists who work hard to operate legally to the highest possible health and hygiene standards.”

Learmount, of Kimberley Drive, Middlesbrough, was charged under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 with failing to register himself as a tattooist with Middlesbrough Council, failing to register his premises and failing to comply with hygiene standards. 

Appearing before Teesside Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (December 4), the 30-year-old pleaded guilty to all charges and was fined £1,000. He was ordered to pay £734 towards the Council’s costs plus a £30 victim surcharge.

Councillor Julia Rostron, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: “I hope this sends a clear message to anyone who thinks they can operate such a business outside the law, that we will take action to protect the people of Middlesbrough.

“The health risks - which may not be immediately obvious - can be devastating for the person concerned.

“This is why we recommend that anyone considering getting a tattoo should go to a registered artist and premises who understand the need for strict infection controls and safety standards.”

  • Any clients of Tony Learmount concerned they may have been put at risk of infection are advised to contact their GP.
  • Anyone with information on unregistered tattooists is asked to report it to Environmental Health on 01642 728272.
  • A list of all registered persons and premises can be found on the Middlesbrough Council website.