We want to ensure that your use of our website is user-friendly, useful and reliable. Where services are delivered on the internet, this sometimes involves placing small amounts of information on your computer or another device such as your mobile phone. These include small files known as “cookies”. We do not use these to identify you personally or to hold any personal data.
These pieces of information are used to improve services for you through, for example:
- Enabling a service to recognise your device so you don’t have to give the same information several times during one task
- Recognising that you may already have provided a username and password so that you don’t need to keep repeating these for every web page requested
- Measuring how many people are using services so they can be improved and there is enough capacity to ensure they are responsive
Cookies are small files, containing an ‘identifier’ given to your browser by a website which may be stored as text files (letters and numbers) in the cookie directory of your computer. Cookies are not programmes and cannot collect information from your computer. They do not damage your computer and are defined as ‘a piece of text stored on a computer by a web browser, a cookie can be used for authentication, storing site preferences, shopping cart contents, the identifier for a server-based session, or anything else that can be accomplished through storing text data’.
Our website may send cookie data to your browser, which may save it if your browser’s preferences allow it to do so. To protect your privacy your browser only returns a cookie to the website that sent you the cookie and does not send it to any other website. A website cannot access your cookie directory or information on your computer, instead, relevant cookies are included by your browser within each request you make to the website. A website can only obtain cookie data that your browser sends to it. Cookies do not contain any information that personally identifies you. There are two types of cookie used:
Persistent cookies remain on your computer for a specified time and so are saved to your computer’s hard disk. We use persistent cookies to:
- Identify that a registered user has returned
- Securely remember your login User ID – if you have asked us to do so
- Understand how you use our site and obtain information on website usage (as described above)
Session cookies are deleted when you close your browser and are not usually saved to your computer’s hard disk. We use session cookies to:
- Identify that you have logged in to the site
- Hold your search criteria while you are carrying out a search of the website
- Collect information on website usage – as described above
You do not have to accept cookies and you can change the settings within your browser to accept all cookies, reject all cookies, reject cookies from certain websites, notify you if a site is requesting to set a cookie, and set various other options. You can also delete cookies already stored on your computer, although this may have a negative effect on the use of websites. Please see your browser’s settings to do so.
Switching off cookies will still allow you to view the majority of content on our website. However, it will prevent you from logging in and so access to personalised information. It will also stop us remembering your login User ID, if you ask us to do so, and may restrict your use of our interactive tools and of some services available.