As the word 'inspector' suggests, routine inspections and check visits are the 'traditional' methods of operation for many regulatory officials and ones which are regarded as fundamental by field staff. To many enforcement officials routine inspections were the stuff of their work and a much-valued mode of operation. The amount of time spent on inspections varied between inspectorates. In all of the inspectorates examined in this research inspections comprised a major method of assessment. Of the total number of visits I undertook with inspectors, routine inspection comprised 65 per cent of FI visits; 63 per cent of IAPI visits; and 79 per cent of REI visits. This is a larger proportion than might be expected from annual work plans.1 This seems to be explained by the fact that many of the special projects and initiatives which tended to be itemised separately in 'Plans of Work' were combined with routine inspections by field-level staff.
Inspections involved either spot checks or routine inspections under formal or informal monitoring programmes. Spot checks were particularly useful for IAPIs who could readily see from a distance whether or not some of the works subject to their control were in compliance. In the case of some emissions, these inspectors could make a visual check while travelling in the vicinity of processes subject to control (see also Cranston 1979, p.79). Spot checks such as these were common during fieldwork. Inspectors would always keep an eye on regulated works while travelling in their vicinity and would sometimes deviate from the direct route to their destination if it meant that they could keep a visual check on other premises they were responsible for. Alternatively spot checks could be undertaken while visiting premises where IAPIs could climb to a vantage point and survey the neighbouring district. These____________________