The Home Secretary faces a difficult task in finding the right level at which to pitch a warning about gun crime in Birmingham.
To make the problem sound worse than it really is could harm the city's reputation, but it would be equally foolish to pretend that all is well in the tough inner city streets.
Jacqui Smith got it just about right when she visited Birmingham yesterday to be briefed on the work of the city's Home Office-backed Tackling Gangs Action Programme.
Ms Smith was right to say that gun crime has not damaged this city's reputation. It has not had a marked impact, apart from a small number of well-publicised cases. It has certainly not put Birmingham on a par with parts of Nottingham, Liverpool or Manchester, which are regarded by the public as no-go areas.
There are, though, worrying signs as evidenced by the Government decision to appoint West Midlands Police the lead force behind the national Ballistics Intelligence Service and to award £250,000 to combat gang activity and gun and knife crime in Birmingham. These are not the sorts of decisions taken in a city where serious crime is not a problem.
The Home Secretary cannot, surely, ignore a sinister development in the spread of gun-related crime to children who, it has emerged, are tracking down and buying weapons from internet sites. So brazen are some of these young people that they think nothing of posing to impress their friends with their newly acquired guns on social networking sites - a cocky mistake which has already led to a number of arrests.
Asked whether internet-aware teenagers were setting a new trend in gang crime, Ms Smith fudged the question by replying that recent arrests indicated the tough and wide-ranging enforcement that is being carried out in the West Midlands. It is true that the police have had successes, but underneath it all the Government must be concerned about the ease with which weapons can be purchased on-line, by anyone with the cash to spare. Most teenagers would have been hard-pushed 20 years ago to find the means to purchase a gun, but it appears all too easy these days.
Clearly, the battle to win hearts and minds on this issue must begin in the classroom - and at an early age, too.