The worst part of the first story is that someone can get a job writing for a national newspaper who doesn't understand the meaning of a simple word like "voluntary"
I am sure that just such a "heady glow" was experienced by the subjects of the ancien regime in France as they did their corvée. The real give-away here is "...Lots of new jobs administering it..." - i.e. the opportunity to dish out work to favoured lackeys who become dependent on (and therefore loyal to) a state that everyone in his right mind detests like a plague rat. Isn't it amazing just how uncreative these totalitarians are? Absolute French monarchs or modern British leftists; they all want the same things.
The worst part of the second story is not the police showing up to interview the kindly young gentleman. They saw what appeared to be a crime on their CCTV and were right to investigate. The worst part is the official response when questioned by journalists about their actions. The young man had persuaded his mates to do some valuable voluntary work to help his neighbours. He had committed no crime. Either it was the local authority's grit and was taken with permission, or it belonged to Railtrack and was taken by mistake. But the British Transport Police still issued the following slur.
What can one say about such rascals; no doubt carefully calculating the likelihood of a 17 year old mechanic having the resources to sue them before issuing a libellous statement to the national media?