“Mortified” to see his 15-year-old daughter return from school with a foot-long tattoo on her back, a Watford father has demanded answers from the police and the tattooist who failed to check her age.

A month after her 15th birthday, the Northwood schoolgirl walked into Little Dave’s Tattoo Studio in Aldenham Road, Bushey, to have 40 black runes permanently inscribed between her neck and lower back.

Despite facing a £1,000 fine and loss of licence for tattooing anyone under the age of 18, staff at the tattoo parlour agreed to the job, believing her to be of the correct age.

Father Neil Pope, of Hillingdon Road, Garston, said: “I was absolutely mortified to see it. How can they do that to a child and not even ask for her ID?

“What is the point of having all these signs up if they don’t ID someone and can get away with it. How can they not ID? Especially when it’s the first tattoo.

“She does not look anywhere near 18. I want to know how many children they tattoo like that.”

Mr Pope went to Borehamwood police station to report the parlour for allegedly breaking the Tattooing of Minors Act.

He was re-directed to Hertsmere Borough Council, despite enforcement of the act being controlled by police and not the council.

To make matters worse, Hertsmere Borough Council sent Mr Pope to Watford Borough Council as the parlour fell on the border of the two areas.

Watford Borough Council sent him back to the police who have yet to respond a week after the incident was reported.

Paul Bond, assistant manager at Little Dave’s, said he regularly checked the age of everyone who appeared to be 18 or younger. He did, however, add that it was not practical to check everyone.

He said: “What was she doing here at 2.30pm with £100 in her pocket? We had every reason to believe that she was over the age of 20. She did not look under 18.

“We get a lot of young girls coming in, sometimes in their school uniform, who we turn away. I just don’t know where they get the money from.

“We can’t check everyone. If we handed everyone a form it can be a bit off-putting.”

Upon hearing about the incident, a representative of the Tattoo Club of Great Britain disagreed.

The award-winning tattoo artist, named “Curly”, said: “There’s no way I would ever, ever tattoo someone under the age of 18. I always ask for a passport or a driving licence when someone looks under 20.

“The only time it can happen here is if someone has a fake ID. Some of the fake IDs are pretty good nowadays but you have to try your best. You cannot tattoo anyone under 18, that’s the law pure and simple.

“The only people who are going to be offended by having their ID checked are people who are too young. If they’re grown-ups they won’t mind and they’ll only be amused by it. There is no excuse.”

Still waiting for an apology from the tattoo parlour or some action from police or the council, Mr Pope has turned to warning parents.

He said: “There’s nothing we can do now, I just don’t want it to happen to another child. It’s not right. It’s just not on being allowed to do this.”

The Watford Observer contacted Hertfordshire Constabulary about the incident but was directed to Hertfordshire County Council and then Watford Borough Council.

After later admitting enforcement of the Tattooing of Minors Act was the responsibility of the police, a Hertfordshire Constabulary representative said: “Unfortunately, it does appear that this gentleman was wrongly informed when he first sought advice about who held responsibility in this matter.

“The tattooing of minors is indeed a criminal offence and a chargeable one and the police do hold responsibility under the Tattooing of Minors Act of 1969.

“We do apologise about the confusion and would request that Mr Pope does make contact with us to formally report this incident so an investigation can be commenced.”