What is a cookie? 

A cookie is a small file of information which a web server stores on a user’s computer to record their preferences and other pieces of information. The cookie is set through a request by a web server to a web browser such as Internet Explorer, or Mozilla Firefox. A cookie is composed of two parts, its name and its content.

What are the advantages of cookies?
A cookie contains information linked from the user to a specific website. If you access the same website again, the web server can read from and react to the information that it has stored to provide a more user-friendly experience.

Cookies are used to store information relating to online offers and services, eg language preferences, privacy settings, and shopping habits, so that you receive more relevant information in a form that is suitable to you.

What data do cookies store?
Most cookies do not store any personal or sensitive information, or anything that makes you personally identifiable. Most cookies are used to record information such as: how you found our website, which pages you viewed, and how long you spent on the site.

Cookies are also used to store information such as: language settings, log-ins for email, or the items in a shopping basket. We do need personal details for some services, for instance if you want to use our online shop, and so that you can use the shop more quickly on return visits, or if you complete an online form.

How long do cookies last?
Different cookies are stored for different lengths of time. For instance, cookies designed to track how you found us expire after six months. Cookies used to establish and continue a unique user session are updated each time you request another page from the website, and the cookie is set to expire after 30 minutes. Cookies which allow us to identify subsequent visits to our website as belonging to the same (unique) visitor expire after two years.

Are cookies transferred to other websites?
No, only the web server that sent the cookie can access it again when a user returns to a website associated with that web server.

Why do organisations use cookies?
We use the data that is collected to report, in aggregate, how our visitors find and use our website. We use those reports to understand overall visitor behaviour, and we use that understanding to update and improve our website. For instance, we use cookies to calculate the amount of ‘traffic’ to our site and to look at navigation through the site, so that we can see the most popular pages and routes to information.

Can cookies damage my computer?
No, a cookie is entirely passive and does not contain software programs, or spyware that can be used to illegally intercept data. Cookies cannot carry viruses, and do not have access to the information on your hard drive.

Cookies we store
Here is a list of the cookies we have defined as ‘strictly necessary’:

  • ASP.NET_SessionId – contains a unique and anonymous identifying ID, which allows us to ensure that subsequent visits to our website are recorded as belonging to the same (unique) visitor. This cookie expires after you leave our website.
  • complianceCookie – contains information about if we have shown you the cookie statement. This cookie expires in 30 days and does not contain any identifying information.

We use Google Analytics, which creates a number of first-party cookies, all prefixed __utm:

  • __utma: contains a unique and anonymous identifying ID, which allows us to ensure that subsequent visits to our website are recorded as belonging to the same (unique) visitor. This cookie expires after two years.
  • __utmb: used to establish and continue a unique user session. Each time you request another page from the website the cookie is updated to expire after 30minutes.
    __utmc: works with __utmb to determine when to create a new session for a website visitor. This is a session cookie and expires when you exit the browser.
  • __utmz: tracks how you found us and is used to calculate traffic and navigation within the website. It is updated with every new page view and expires after 6 months.

To opt out of our use of Google Analytics you may wish to consider using the Google Analytics Opt-out Browser Add-on.

How can I opt out of cookies?
You will need to disable cookies in your browser. You find out how to do this, and more about cookies at