If there is a sense of hopelessness about the Home Secretary's latest pronouncements on knife crime, that is because Jacqui Smith knows she is almost certainly on to a hiding to nothing no matter what she says or does.
Government ministers must give the impression of having plausible answers to complex social problems -voters expect nothing less than to be reassured - but in reality Ms Smith must realise she is likely to make no more headway on this issue than her predecessors in one of the most difficult jobs in the Cabinet.
Murders and serious assaults resulting from stabbings are on the increase. Or are they?
Certainly there have recently been a number of well reported deaths of young people in London and other large cities which have attracted the attention of the media during the summer months, but it is a bit rich to suggest that knife crime is out of control or that the lives of teenagers are routinely put at risk whenever they go out at night.
The Government's response to growing public concern - confronting young offenders with stab victims in A&E wards, high-profile policing in inner city areas, visits by youth offending teams to schools and tough prison sentences for anyone caught carrying a knife - is entirely predictable and hardly new.
There is, sadly, little evidence from places such as America that such measures have any impact on the number of offences taking place but they do at least go some way to sending out messages about the futility of a knife culture.
The most incisive comment over the weekend came from former Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick, who pointed out that more people are carrying knives not because they have any wish to use them but because they feel threatened and expect to have to defend themselves on the streets.
It is difficult to see, given the easy availability of knives, how the tide can be turned until most youngsters can be convinced that the chances of becoming involved in a mugging or violent incident remain relatively small.
A final point well made by Mr Paddick, and something that Ms Smith might wish to bear in mind when being confronted by the something-must-be-done mob, is that only two out of every 100 police searches in London results in the discovery of a knife.
Two knives are two too many, but let's get this into perspective.