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23 June 2013, 06:34
A tattoo artist, who ran her business from the back of a garage near Market Deeping, has been fined £500 for putting the "public's health at risk".
Heidi Blades was prosecuted for persistently trading illegally from a tiny studio based at the back of her garage.
South Kesteven District Council prosecuted her for operating her business, Deeping Ink, after tens of customers visited her property for tattoos in Knight Close in Deeping St James over a six month period.
The authority's environmental health team found the business continued to trade despite repeated warnings that she was operating in an unsuitable environment that placed the public's health at risk.
Spalding Magistrates' Court heard on June 19 the council received information that Mrs Blades had been tattooing from home as the business was being advertised on social network site Facebook.
The activity continued between October 2012 and April this year despite Mrs Blades unsuccessfully attempting to register herself and the business twice.
In response to both applications it was determined that the partitioned part of the garage that acted as the studio did not meet the requirements of byelaws for SKDC to permit the business to operate.
Illegal home tattooing, known as 'scratching' has become a significant national, and more recently, local public health concern.
Blades was found guilty in her absence at court for failing to register a person and a premises under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 Section 16.
Presiding magistrate Sally Ruttley gave Mrs Blades the fine and ordered her to pay £1,456.94 costs and a £50 victim surcharge.
SKDC's Head of Environmental Services Mike Butler said the fine highlighted the dangers customers face by choosing to use illegal tattoo studios.
He said: "Home tattoos are often provided from inexperienced people who purchase their equipment cheaply from internet auction sites and often advertise their activities on social networking sites.
"This prosecution sends out a message that we will not tolerate business owners who operate in this manner and place members of the public's health at risk, including infections such as HIV and Hepatitis.
"If you wish to have a tattoo please visit a registered tattoo artist in the district who must display their registration certificates on the premises."
The council is pleased that Mrs Blades has since taken appropriate action to find a shop premises and has worked closely with the council to register a shop and herself in Market Deeping.