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. These cookies are designed to allow the website to recognise its users on subsequent visits, or to authorise other designated websites to recognise these users for a particular purpose.
Cookies do a lot of different jobs which make your experience 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. Much, though not all, of the data that they collect is anonymous, though some of it is designed to detect browsing patterns and approximate geographical location to improve user experience.
Information collected by cookies and web beacons is not personally identifiable.
We collect cookies from our users for various reasons, not least to track our own performance – but also to let us serve you content tailored to your own specifications or membership level, hopefully improving your overall experience of the site. Amongst other things, the cookies we use allow users to register, allow us to calculate how many visitors we have – anonymously and how long they stay on our site.
What types of cookie are there and which ones do we use?
There are two types of cookie:
- Persistent cookies remain on a user’s device for a set period of time specified in the cookie. They are activated each time that the user visits the website that created that particular cookie.
- 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 follow: ‘strictly necessary’ cookies, ‘performance’ cookies, ‘functionality’ cookies and ‘targeting’ or ‘advertising’ 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 or shopping baskets. 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 to the website as a registered user.
Performance cookies collect anonymous data for statistical purposes on how visitors use a website, they don’t contain personal information, 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.
How do I control my cookies?
You should be aware that any preferences will be lost if you delete cookies and many websites will not work properly or you will lose some functionality. We do not recommend turning cookies off when using our Website 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 settings, and check the following links for more browser-specific information.