NEW rules designed to make getting a tattoo or a body piercing safer in Wales have been welcomed.
The rules have, however, sparked concerns over increased workloads for Gwynedd Council staff members.
A new mandatory licensing scheme affecting practitioners of “special procedures” – tattooing, semi-permanent skin colouring, cosmetic piercings, acupuncture, dry needling and electrolysis – are due to be introduced by the Welsh Government in June 2024.
Local authorities will then become responsible for enforcing new licensing requirements under Part 4 of the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017.
Cyngor Gwynedd’s central licensing committee was given an introduction to the new scheme by public protection manager Gwenan Mai Roberts at its meeting on Monday.
Currently, “special procedure” practitioners are required to register with their local authority – but enforcement options under the provision were “limited”, a report stated.
And authorities could only refuse an application for skin piercing registration if the applicant has already had a previous registration cancelled by the courts after being found guilty of an offence such as breaching a hygiene byelaw.
The new scheme aimed to reduce health risks associated with the procedures, the committee heard.
“Most notably infections can occur at the site of the procedure and also improper and unhygienic practices may result in the spread of infectious diseases, such as blood-borne viruses,” they were informed.
The new rules mean it will be an offence for a practitioner to carry out any “special procedures” without being licensed, or perform any procedures from an unapproved premise or vehicle.
A full licence will last for three years but a seven day licence could be granted for events such as festivals and conferences.
The licence conditions would also cover a practitioner’s competence, premises, equipment, practices and records.
They would also have to undergo specific training.
Councillor Gwynfor Owen welcomed safety legislation, but was in agreement with Cllr Gareth Jones, who raised concerns over “increasing workloads on the department”.
Cllr Owen asked: “You would expect an additional two or three members of staff – how will the department cope with this increased workload?”
Cllr Eryl Jones Williams also felt it was “more work with fewer resources”.
Gwenan Mai Roberts agreed it was a “valid point,” and said Cyngor Gwynedd would “work to enforce the scheme which would be absorbed into an existing work programme”.
As yet, there had been no extra funding discussed and she said that the council’s departments already faced “significant challenges”.
“If no further funds were forthcoming, the department would have to do their best to implement the scheme, they would have to see how they could cope with it,” she said.
But, she added: “If existing resources mean we can’t maintain or implement the work, we would have to look at resources available, that would be something for the department to consider, and submit a report to the cabinet.”