Our Service mission is: "To provide a fair and safe trading environment for the consumers and businesses of Dorset, through education, advice, enforcement, and partnership working."

Our objectives are to:

  • support economic growth by providing the best advice to businesses, including farmers, to ensure they trade fairly and safely
  • identify and tackle problem traders
  • focus on the needs of vulnerable consumers to help safeguard their independence, health and well-being
  • ensure the food chain is safe and animal livestock disease spread minimised
  • ensure the contribution to public health and well-being from all trading standards activity is maximised

What does our Trading Standards Service do?

We deliver service in these areas:

  • fair trading, including false claims, rogue traders, misleading prices, counterfeit goods
  • product safety
  • safe storage of petroleum and explosives
  • food and animal feed standards
  • weights and measures
  • health and welfare of farmed animals

We determine our activities based on assessment of the needs for our intervention indicated by complaints and enquiries from consumers and businesses, our statutory responsibilities, other sources of intelligence, assessing the needs of local people and our local business community, regional and national priorities and bearing in mind the risks and detriment resulting from particular non-compliance.

The Citizens Advice consumer service is the first point of contact for consumers seeking advice on consumer problems or wishing to report a concern about a business to Trading Standards. We use the data from Citizens Advice and referrals made to us from them as a key driver for our enforcement activity.

Find out more about Dorset Trading Standards, including our Trading Standards Service Plan

We aim to deliver our Service in accordance with the requirements of the Regulators’ Code 2014. View our Enforcement Policy which reflects this Code.

Working with businesses and others we regulate

In your dealings with us, you can expect and will receive, an efficient and professional service. Our team of officers will:

  • be courteous and polite
  • maintain confidentiality 
  • always identify themselves by name in dealings with you, and provide you with contact details
  • seek to gain an understanding of the pressures you face and how your business operates
  • provide details of how to discuss any concerns you may have
  • agree timescales, expectations and preferred methods of communication with you
  • ensure that you are kept informed of progress on any outstanding issues.
  • provide details of who to contact to complain or challenge enforcement decisions

We recognise that your business will receive advice and inspections from other organisations, and we will do our best to work with them to ensure that you receive the best service.

Helping you to get it right

We want to work with you to help your business to be a success, and it is important to us that you feel able to come to us for advice when you need it. We will not take enforcement action just because you tell us that you have a problem.

View our information and guidance on meeting statutory obligations. The Business Companion pages are updated regularly as part of a service provided by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute so that guidance is current and uses input from experts nationally.

Where you need advice to help you to meet your legal obligations we will:

  • provide advice that supports compliance and that can be relied on
  • provide advice that is appropriate for your circumstances and is not overly burdensome
  • provide clear advice that can be easily understood and implemented
  • distinguish legal requirements from suggested good practice 
  • ensure that any verbal advice you receive is confirmed in writing if requested
  • acknowledge good practice and compliance

We do not charge for our advice unless under a Primary Authority agreement. Primary Authority agreements can be discussed as an option.

We do charge for some additional weights and measures testing services we provide on request and there are fees associated with particular licences and registrations, and to be a member of our ‘Buy With Confidence’ Trading Standards approval scheme.

Inspections and other compliance visits

We monitor and support compliance in different ways including through inspections, sampling visits, test purchases, advisory visits and complaint investigations. These visits will always be based on an assessment of risk. We will aim to give you notice that we intend to visit unless we have specific reason to believe that an unannounced visit is more appropriate.  

When we visit you our officers will:

  • explain the reason and purpose of the visit  
  • carry their identification card at all times, and present it on request when visiting your premises
  • exercise discretion in front of your customers and staff
  • have regard to how you approach compliance within your business, and use this information to inform future interactions with you  
  • provide advice to support you in meeting your statutory obligations, if required
  • provide written confirmation of the visit and any key points raised

Responding to non-compliance

Where we identify any failure to meet legal obligations, we will respond proportionately, taking account of the circumstances, in line with our Enforcement Policy found on the website.

Where we require you to take action to remedy any failings we will:

  • explain the nature of the non-compliance
  • discuss what is required to achieve compliance, taking into account your circumstances
  • clearly explain any advice, actions required or decisions that we have taken
  • agree timescales that are acceptable to both you and us, in relation to any actions required
  • details of how to appeal is available in our Enforcement Policy
  • explain what will happen next, including any timescales
  • keep in touch with you, where required, until the matter is resolved

Buy With Confidence Scheme: promoting your business

A key way of ensuring that Dorset businesses have an opportunity to promote their commitment to compliance and fair dealings with consumers is the Buy with Confidence approved trader scheme. This is supported by a membership fee of which there are approximately 150 in Dorset. The scheme is a local adoption of a scheme employed nationally and particularly well supported across the South West and South East of England.

Requests for our service

We respond to requests for assistance that we receive, including requests for advice and complaints about breaches of the law. We will:

  • acknowledge your request with the call or within three working days
  • tell you when you can expect a substantive response
  • seek to fully understand the nature of your request
  • explain what we may or may not be able to do, so that you know what to expect
  • keep you informed of progress throughout our involvement
  • provide clear advice where appropriate
  • inform you of the outcome as appropriate

The relevant response times and expected resolution times in relation to business enquiries is given below although a risk-based judgment will be made by officers to determine whether a more prompt response is required.

Our service standards for dealing with businesses

Incoming telephone calls

  • business advice line answered within four rings or message facility with call back when engaged
  • officer voicemail is used by all officers
  • provide an initial response at the time of call or within one working day

Personal callers

  • a telephone call or email to arrange an appointment at your convenience will enable us to provide the appropriate officer to deal with your query

Incoming letters and emails, including written requests for business advice

  • acknowledged within three working days of receipt
  • straightforward matters given full response within 10 working days (5 working days for business advice)
  • our aim is to provide accurate and helpful legal advice. Some queries are more complex and we strive to find the right answers and solutions that sometimes take us longer


  • we will keep you informed on unresolved issues at no longer than monthly intervals unless otherwise agreed with you

Inspection of business premises

  • provide written notification of any problems found or any alleged offence at the time of visit or within 10 working days
  • provide statutory written inspection reports on all food inspections at the conclusion of the visit

Verification and Calibration Activities

  • carry out verification on weights and measures equipment to meet your needs on a date convenient to your business
  • carry out calibration work to meet your need or no longer than 10 working days of receipt of the equipment being calibrated


  • pay undisputed invoices within 30 days of issue date

Dorset Trading Standards - Our Team

We have a dedicated team of around 19 full time equivalent officers in total, including our specialist animal health team. We have the appropriate qualifications, skills and experience to deliver the services provided. We have arrangements in place to ensure the ongoing professional competency of all officers.

Where specialist knowledge is required in an area outside of our expertise we have access to other trading standards services in the South West and nationally through the links we maintain. In appropriate cases we can engage the help of other experts or analysts to carry out our work.

Working with others

Trading Standards is part of a wider regulatory system in Dorset.  We have good working relationships with other regulators within Dorset Council; Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the Police and the Fire Service. This includes sharing information and data on compliance and risk, where the law allows, to help target regulatory resources.

Having your say

Complaints and appeals:

We are always willing to discuss with you the reasons why we have acted in a particular way or asked you to act in a particular way. You can contact one of our Trading Standards Management Team as an alternative to the officer who dealt with the particular matter via our Business Advice Line (01305 224702).

We manage complaints about our service through Dorset Council’s complaints procedure.


We value input from you to help us ensure our service is meeting your needs.  We would like to hear from you whether your experience of us has been good or in need of improvement.  This helps us to ensure we keep doing the right things and make changes where we need to.  We use customer satisfaction surveys from time to time but we would welcome your feedback at any time.

Developing our service with you

We are keen to ensure that we improve our services to ensure businesses can access information and guidance from us, using our website, our Business Advice line or by visits by our officers in a way that suits businesses, while still trying to achieve compliance. We are keen to meet with any new or existing business groups to develop our services.

How business can contact us

Contact Trading Standards

Share this page