Hitchin mum’s anger over teenage son’s piercing

A PARENT whose teenage son had his face pierced without being asked for ID or parental consent has hit out at the company involved, labelling the lack of checks as “disgraceful”.

Melanie Thomas, of Hitchin, found out on Sunday that her 15-year-old son Jake had had a facial piercing at Letchworth GC’s Bell House Gallery three weeks ago when he was still 14, despite her refusing to give her consent.

The shop in Leys Avenue, which offers tattoos and piercings, has a policy not to pierce anyone under 16 without a consenting adult, but no statutory law for an age limit exists, provided the client’s consent is given.

“When I spoke to the owner he laughed it off but it’s not a laughing matter,” said the 39-year-old.

“He’s nearly six foot tall so he does look older than he is but they should still ask for ID unless they’re accompanied by a parent.

“Even if he’d looked at the form properly he would have seen that Jake was nervous as he said he was 16 but he gave his date of birth that would have made him 17.

“It’s a serious matter as it’s on his face and he’s been scarred for life now. It’s disgraceful.”

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Peter Bevan, who has been a partner at Bell House Gallery since it opened 14 years ago, said: “We are licensed for what we do but we have our own policy (not piercing under 16s unless parental consent is given) because we don’t want irate mums in the shop.

“Some do slip through the net if they lie on the forms and in this case he was 6ft tall. We turn a lot of youngsters away that come in as we know they are under age. But if she doesn’t like it she can just tell her son to take it out.”

Councils can use licensing powers to impose licence conditions relating to the age of the client, but in line with national procedure North Herts District Council has not imposed this.

A spokesman for NHDC said: “The council does have the powers to inspect any premises that carry out piercing or tattooing, and make sure they are observing local byelaws that relate to the hygiene of their premises, staff and equipment. This byelaw does not however include any age restriction on piercings.”

Responding to this, Miss Thomas added: “There should be a law against it. If kids of any age can walk in a shop and say put that in my face that’s horrendous. Perhaps they (NHDC) should consider getting some (licence conditions relating to the age of the client).”