A NEW hygiene ratings scheme to put people in the picture when getting tattoos and piercings has been launched.

Dudley Council has unveiled the new scheme which allows people to check the hygiene ratings of businesses before they book in.

The programme, similar to the food hygiene ratings system which has been running for a number of years, aims to raise hygiene standards in the borough and help ensure members of the public are well informed when deciding which studio business to use.

It also includes businesses that offer semi-permanent make-up.

The scheme is voluntary and businesses have to apply to be part of the ratings system.

Councillor Peter Miller, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “Often people go for the places that offer the cheapest deals or the best artwork.

"Hygiene is such a massive issue and should be part of that decision-making when choosing somewhere to get a tattoo or piercing.

“We’d welcome businesses to sign up to this new scheme, that way people can look them up on our website and choose somewhere they know is clean and safe.”

Business that apply will have a visit from environmental health officers, who will carry out checks based on national guidelines for hygiene.

The business will then be given a rating from one to five depending on how well they score – with five being excellent and one requiring major improvement.

People will be able to see the scores of all businesses by visiting www.dudley.gov.uk and searching for ‘tattoos and piercings’.

Businesses will also get a window sticker and a certificate to display to customers.

Visits will be made annually to ensure the information is up to date.