What are cookies?
Cookies are small files that hold information; they’re placed on your computer when you access websites or use apps on your device. The data contained in the cookie can be retrieved by the website or app that placed them there. They can also be accessed by websites or apps that have been authorised to use them by the site or app that first dropped them.
Some cookies only exist for a short period of time and are then automatically deleted by your device. Others last for longer – these are called ‘persistent cookies’. These can be used to analyse multiple site visits over time or customise the content that’s displayed.
The three main types of cookie we use on our site:
- Strictly necessary cookies
These cookies are essential — without them you might not be able to get the information or service you’ve asked for. They’re needed for things like logging whether you see error messages.
- Personalisation and testing cookies
These cookies remember choices you’ve made to personalise the site, or are used by us to test site content and functionality with different groups of visitors. They may remember where you are in the site so you can get tailored information.
- Analytics and measurement cookies
We use several technologies to understand how visitors use our website. These help us to identify areas for improvement. They include analytics tools that report numbers, and session capture tools that record videos of individual user sessions – following things like where you click on the page, place your cursor, and where you fill in forms. This data is kept secure and we only record what’s typed into forms if really necessary. The rest of the time it’s not visible in the recording.We may, for example, analyse website usage and identify a page where people struggle to know what to do next; we’d then use session capture to observe some individual site visitors and find out what the issue is.Tools we use for analytics and measurement include Google Analytics.
What about links to other websites and their cookies?
We often link to other sites to give you extra information or services. Where these are provided by a third party, you may leave our website by clicking through to theirs. In this case, the cookies policy set out on the third party’s website will also apply. As this won’t be controlled by us, you should read their policy to find out what information is being collected and how it’s used.
How to control cookies
You can restrict, remove or block cookies through your browser settings at any time.
Most web browsers allow you to manage which cookies you accept via their settings – you can use the following links to find out more. If your browser is not listed below you can normally use the ‘Help’ functionality on your browser to find out about how it handles cookies, or visit the site you downloaded it from for more information.
- Cookie settings in Internet Explorer and Edge
- Cookie settings in Firefox
- Cookie settings in Chrome
- Cookie settings in Safari web and iOS.
General information about cookies