What do Cookies do?
Cookies have been used to make the website easy to use, useful and reliable. Where services are delivered on the internet, this sometimes involves placing small amounts of information on your computer or mobile phone. These include small files known as cookies. They cannot be used to identify you personally.
These pieces of information are used to improve services for you through, for example:
- Enabling a service to recognise your device so you don't have to give the same information several times during one task, in a shopping cart for example.
- Recognising that you may already have given a username and password so you don't need to do it for every web page requested, for example, if you have logged into the website.
- Measuring how many people are using services, so they can be made easier to use and there's enough capacity to ensure they are fast. We use Google Analytics for this task.
Above are the most common uses for Cookies on websites aimed at a UK audience.
Where did cookies come from?
Cookies for the internet were originally developed in 1995 by the Netscape Communications Corporation. The word 'cookie' comes from 'magic cookie,' a term in programming languages for a piece of information shared between co-operating pieces of software. The choice of the word cookie appears to come from the American tradition of giving and sharing edible cookies.
What is the purpose of cookies?
Cookies make the interaction between users and websites faster and easier. Without cookies, it would be very difficult for a website to allow a visitor to fill up a shopping cart or to remember the user's preferences or registration details for a future visit.
Cookies are also used to enable ecommerce websites to monitor their users' web surfing habits and profile them for marketing purposes (for example, to find out which products or services they are interested in and send them targeted advertisements). This is especially popular in the USA and is also part of the programming of many of the popular Social Media websites such as Facebook
Are there different types of cookies?
Session, or transient cookies
These are cookies that are stored in the computer's memory only during a user's browsing session and are automatically deleted from the user's computer when the browser is closed. These cookies usually store a session ID that is not personally identifiable to users, allowing the user to move from page to page without having to log-in repeatedly. They are widely used by commercial websites (for example, to keep track of items that a buyer has added to a shopping cart). Session cookies are never written on the hard drive and they do not collect any information from the user's computer. Session cookies expire at the end of the user's browser session and can also become no longer accessible after the session has been inactive for a specified length of time, usually between 15 and 20 minutes.
Permanent, persistent, or stored cookies
Cookies that are stored on the user's computer and are not deleted when the browser is closed. Permanent cookies can retain user preferences for a particular website, allowing those preferences to be used in future browsing sessions. Permanent cookies can be used to identify individual users, so they may be used by websites to analyse users' surfing behaviour within the website. These cookies can also be used to provide information about numbers of visitors, the average time spent on a particular page and generally the performance of the website. They are usually configured to keep track of users for a prolonged period of time, in some cases many years into the future.
How to delete Flash cookies?
If you would like to see what Flash cookies are installed on your computer then visit the Adobe website and you will see the actual list of websites that have used this technology to store your information. From here you can delete any and all of them with one click, should you wish to. Click this link to go there now. Bear in mind that we do not control the content of this external website.
If you have Adobe Flash installed on your computer (most computers do), small files may be stored on your computer by websites that contain Flash media, such as video clips. These files are known as Local Shared Objects (LSOs) or Flash cookies. They can be used for the same purposes as regular cookies. Flash cookies can also back up the data that is stored in a regular cookie. When you delete cookies using your browser controls, your Flash cookies are not affected. So, a website that served a cookie to you may recognise you on your next visit if it backed up its now-deleted cookie data to a Flash cookie. You can control Flash cookies. Adobe's website offers tools to control Flash cookies on your computer and users of the Firefox browser can also get an add-on to detect and delete Flash cookies.
As there are so many different browsers available for us to use to visit Internet websites, we felt it was important to give you the opportunity to delete an and all cookies from your computer. If you visit www.aboutcookies.org you can learn how to delete them from your particular browser. Bear in mind that we do not control the content of this external website.
Are cookies dangerous?
No. Cookies are small pieces of text. They are not computer programs, and they can't be executed as code. Also, they cannot be used to disseminate viruses, and modern versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and other browsers allow users to set their own limitations to the number of cookies saved on their hard drives.
Can cookies threaten users' privacy?
Cookies are stored on the computer's hard drive. They cannot “read” the hard drive - so a cookie can't read other information saved on the hard drive, or get a user's e-mail address etc. They only contain and transfer to the server as much information as the users themselves have disclosed to a certain website.
A server cannot set a cookie for a domain that it is not a member of. In spite of this, users quite often find in their computer files cookies from websites that they have never visited. These cookies are usually set by companies that sell internet advertising on behalf of other websites. Therefore, it may be possible that users' information is passed to third party websites without the users' knowledge or consent, such as information on surfing habits. This is the most common reason for people rejecting or fearing cookies.
Do please be assured that any cookies we allow to be used on this website that are in our control will never be used to encourage advertising to you in particular.
We agree with the legislation that is in force created to protect user privacy but also feel that our website should function properly for you and for us. We shall of course keep a close watch on this issue on your behalf. If you have any questions about this subject please contact us and state your concerns.
Last updated: 1st March 2019