The law on intimate body piercing in Wales changed on February 1st 2018. As a result, it is now illegal to perform an intimate piercing on anyone who is under the age of 18 years in Wales. Wales is the first country to introduce this law with the aim of protecting the health and safety of young people and to to prevent them from possibly being placed in vulnerable situations. Here is everything that parents of young people need to know about the new intimate body piercing law in Wales.
Essential facts about the intimate body piercing law in Wales
The intimate body piercing law in Wales came into force on 1st February 2018 and applies to everybody in Wales, not just piercing businesses. Here are the essential facts that you need to know:
- The law applies to all intimate body piercings. This includes the anus, breast (including the nipple and areola), buttock, natal cleft (the cleft between the buttocks), penis (including the foreskin), perineum, pubic mound, scrotum, tongue or vulva and applies to all genders. There have been some small studies into the rates of complications of this type of piercing. The findings should be treated with caution but rates as high as 50 percent have been recorded.
- It is illegal for children under 18 years to have a piercing. The law is very clear. No-one can intimately pierce a child or young person under the age of 18 in Wales. This applies whether payment is made or not.
- ‘Making arrangements’ is also illegal. It is against the law to make arrangements to perform an intimate piercing on a child or young person under the age of 18 in Wales. This includes making plans and booking an appointment.
- The law affects existing piercings. Some parents may have teens who already have an intimate piercing. If a complication (such as an infection or embedding) occurs and the young person is not able to remove the piercing safely themselves, they will NOT be able to go back
to the person who did the piercing for them and ask them to remove it or treat it. This is an important point as complications can arise with piercings months or years after they were initially carried out. Instead, medical treatment must be sought at a GP or a hospital.
- The law applies only to Wales. The law applies to anyone performing or ‘making arrangements’ to perform an intimate piercing on a person under 18 in Wales and does not apply in other areas of the United Kingdom. However, it does apply to all visitors to Wales. So, for example, if you are on holiday in Wales, your child would not be able to have an intimate body piercing when they are here.
- Looking over 18 is not enough. Proof of age is very important but the law does not specify which documents are needed. However, a piercer could ask for a passport; a European
Union photo card driving licence; a photographic identity card bearing the national
Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) hologram; or any other document that
can prove the person is 18 or over. You can expect that your child will be asked their age when they first make the booking (and this will be recorded) and that they will be asked to verify their age again on the appointment date.
- Piercers who break the law. If your child is under 18 years of age and receives an intimate body piercing after February 1st 2018 in Wales, it is viewed as a criminal offence. As a parent you can report this to your local authority. If a prosecution is taken and they are found guilty they will have to pay a fine.
More information for teens and their parents
There is plenty of information on the intimate body piercing law in Wales on the Welsh Government website and information for caring for piercings provided by Public Health England, the Chartered Society of Environmental Health Officers, Health and Safety Laboratory and the Tattoo and Piercing Industry Union can be found here.
Many many thanks to Dr. Sarah Jones, Team Manager Communicable Disease and Health and Safety at Shared Regulatory Services, Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan who is working with the Welsh Government and who provided the following additional information about the intimate body piercing law in Wales:
Part 5 of the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017 will come into force on 1 February 2018. From this date it will be an offence in Wales to perform an intimate piercing on children and young people under the age of 18 in Wales and/or “make arrangements” to perform an intimate piercing on a person under the age of 18 in Wales.
Wales is the first country in the UK to introduce a nationwide ban on intimate piercing of under 18s. The aim of this new law is to better protect children and young people from the potential health harms which can be caused by an intimate piercing including infections and injuries. As young people continue to grow during their teenage years, an intimate piercing performed at a young age could result in further complications arising as their bodies develop.
Young people may also be less likely to have the experience or knowledge of how to clean or maintain an intimate piercing, leading to an increased risk of infection. The law also protects children through the removal of circumstances where children and young people are placed in a potentially vulnerable situation.
— Dr Frank Atherton (@CMOWales) February 1, 2018
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