What is a Cookie?
An HTTP Cookie (also known as a web, internet or browser cookie) is a small text file that may be stored by a user's web browser when they visit a website.
A cookie is used to record information about a website visitor, often for purposes of making the website work properly, such as when a customer signs in to a service or account.
A cookie may also be used to analyse and track non-personal details of a visitor, in order to assist the website owners in developing and improving their website.
This statistical information includes details such as:
- which web browser a visitor is using
- whether they're browsing from a computer, or a mobile device
- what Operating System that device is using (e.g. Windows or Android)
- how a visitor reached a website (e.g. bookmark, search page or direct link)
- which pages on the website they visit
- the day, or time of day someone visits
A cookie may exist for the duration of a web browsing session, after which it is deleted. Or it may persist for longer, until it reaches its expiry date, at which point it will be removed.
Cookies can be managed from your web browser settings, or through a browser add-on (also called a browser extension). They can also be removed by clearing your browser's internet history.
More information on managing cookies is available here:
What can I do to manage cookies stored on my computer?❐
Like many other websites, we use the Google Analytics service in order to record statistical information about visitors to our site. This helps us improve the website to better suit our audience.
No personal information is used when gathering these statistics.
In addition, to protect your privacy, the IP address (which uniquely identifies your computer or device while you are online) is anonymised so that you can't be directly tracked.
For added security, all analytical data is sent using the encrypted SSL secure internet protocol.
This anonymised IP address can be used to get a rough idea of which geographical area a web visitor may be browsing from.
However an IP address is tied to the network that provides your internet connection and may change each time you go online. Also if you use a different network, such as a wireless (WiFi) hotspot while you're out and about, you will get a different IP address.
We also use a temporary (session) cookie if you change the page from the standard theme to the high contrast version. This is provided to assist visitors who might find the default theme difficult to see properly.
Rather than force you to change the page theme for every page you browse on our site, a cookie is created containing your preferred choice and this remains for the duration of your browsing session.
This cookie is only used locally by your browser and is removed once you finish browsing.
You can also switch page themes using the View menu of certain web browsers:
View → Page Style (Firefox)
View → Style (Opera, Internet Explorer)
This option may not exist in all browser versions.
The following table shows the cookies that are used when you visit our site.
|Cookie Name||Purpose||Contents||Expires After|
|_ga||Contains a unique id that identifies the device you are browsing from as a unique visitor.
If you return to this website at another time, the statistics can recognise a returning visitor.
|A randomly generated visitor number||2 years|
|_gat||This is used for performance reasons, to limit the collection of data if the website is busy.||A number||10 minutes|
|site_theme_choice||This is created to remember your selection if you switch between the standard page theme and the high contrast version.||The name of the page theme selected||You close your web browser|
Note: if your web browser is set to only allow temporary (session) cookies, then these expiry dates won't apply and all session cookies should be removed when you close your browser.
If you do not wish the statistical information to be gathered, Google have provided a means to opt-out via a browser add-on:
Google Analytics Opt-Out❐
To continue browsing our site, please use the Back button on your internet browser or device, or choose one of the pages from our menu.