More people have been caught camping without a permit at East Coast Park in recent years.
The National Parks Board (NParks) has issued more notices of offence for illegal camping there. It has handed out 1,122 notices as of Nov 4, nearly double the 671 doled out for the whole of last year. In 2012, the number was 410.
Most of these were issued to people who did not apply for a permit or were camping in non-designated camping sites, said NParks director of parks Chia Seng Jiang.
He attributed the increase to NParks stepping up its patrolling and enforcement efforts.
The Straits Times understands that the increased effort is a result of media reports late last year on illegal campers.
A permit is required for both day and overnight camping, so that the authorities can cap the number of tents to prevent overcrowding.
The only exception is at Pulau Ubin, where tents can be pitched at designated areas without a permit.
The public can apply for permits at any AXS station or online, and each applicant can camp for only four days a month.
Camping is also allowed at designated areas at Pasir Ris Park and West Coast Park, besides East Coast Park and Pulau Ubin.
Said Mr Chia: "This is to allow our park spaces to be enjoyed by the various segments of users, and to ensure that our parks continue to offer a pleasant environment for recreation and leisure."
While there are notices of offences issued at other parks, The Straits Times understands most people are caught at East Coast Park. It is the most popular destination because of the array of facilities and long stretch of beach, campers said.
IT manager Linus Loo, 41, camps overnight with his family and friends once every three months at East Coast Park.
He welcomed greater enforcement because "it discourages undesirable activities such as people committing indecent acts in the tents or even outside", which he said is not ideal for the family-friendly park.
"But too much checking may annoy people, so there has to be a balance," he added.
Plumber Ahmad Said, 60, said: "It's good that they come and check, there could be illegal immigrants living in the parks."
But some insisted that it was troublesome to apply for the permits.
A 26-year-old, who declined to be named and camps with his girlfriend once every two weeks, said: "I'm lazy to do it. Anyway, I only stay for five to six hours here. Even though I don't apply, no one has caught me yet."
Those who fail to apply for a permit or camp outside designated areas may be fined up to $2,000.
This article was first published on Nov 22, 2014.
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