What are cookies?
For almost any modern website to work properly, it needs to collect certain basic information on its users. To do this, a site will create files known as cookies – which are small text files – on its users’ computers.
Cookies do a lot of different jobs which make your experience of the internet much smoother and more interactive. For instance, they are used to remember your preferences on sites you visit often, to remember your user ID and the contents of your shopping baskets, and to help you navigate between pages more efficiently. They also help ensure that the advertisements that you see online are more relevant to you and your interests. Some data collected is designed to detect browsing patterns and approximate geographical location to improve user experience.
Some websites may also contain images called ‘web beacons’ (also known as ‘clear gifs’). Web beacons only collect limited information, including a cookie number, a timestamp, and a record of the page on which they are placed. Websites may also carry web beacons placed by third party advertisers. These beacons do not carry any personally identifiable information and are only used to track the effectiveness of a particular campaign (for example by counting the number of visitors).
We do our utmost to respect users’ privacy. However, your experience of the site may be adversely affected if you opt out of cookies.
What types of cookies do we use?
✔ Persistent Cookies
Persistent cookies remain on a user’s device for a set period of time, which is specified in the cookie. They are activated each time that the user visits the website that created the cookie.
✔ Session Cookies
Session cookies are temporary. They allow website operators to link the actions of a user during a browser session. A browser session starts when a user opens the browser window and finishes when they close the browser window. Once you close the browser, all session cookies are deleted.
Cookies also have, broadly speaking, four different functions and can be categorised as follows: ‘strictly necessary’ cookies, ‘performance’ cookies, ‘functionality’ cookies and ‘targeting’ or ‘advertising’ cookies.
✔ Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly necessary cookies are essential to navigate around a website and use its features. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to use basic services like registration. These cookies do not gather information about you that could be used for marketing or remembering where you’ve been on the internet.
Examples of how we use ‘strictly necessary’ cookies include:
- Setting unique identifiers for each unique visitor, so site numbers can be analysed
- Allowing you to sign in as a registered user
- Remembering any consent preferences for a period of time
✔ Performance Cookies
Performance cookies collect data for statistical purposes on how visitors use a website; they don’t contain personal information such as names and email addresses and are used to improve your user experience of a website.
Here are some examples of how we use performance cookies:
- Gathering data about visits to the website, including numbers of visitors and visits, length of time spent on the site, pages clicked on or where visitors have come from.
- For comparison with other websites using data collected by industry-accepted measurement and research companies.
- Google Analytics which provides information about what country a user is from, what pages of a site they visited and for how long, for example. You can learn more about Google Analytics [here].
Information supplied by performance cookies helps us to understand how you use the website; for example, whether or not you have visited before, what you looked at or clicked on and how you found us.
✔ Functional Cookies
Functional cookies allow users to customise how a website looks for them: they can remember usernames, language preferences and regions, and can be used to provide more personal services.
Here are some examples of how we use functionality cookies:
- Storing your user preferences
- Remembering if you’ve been to the site before so that messages intended for first-time users are not displayed to you.
✘ Targeted Advertising
How do I control my cookies?
You should be aware that any preferences will be lost if you delete all cookies and many websites will not work properly or you will lose some functionality. We do not recommend turning cookies off when using our site for these reasons.
Most browsers accept cookies automatically, but you can alter the settings of your browser to erase cookies or prevent automatic acceptance if you prefer. Generally, you have the option to see what cookies you’ve got and delete them individually, block third party cookies or cookies from particular sites, accept all cookies, to be notified when a cookie is issued or reject all cookies.
Visit the ‘options’ or ‘preferences’ menu on your browser to change your settings.