When we provide services, we want to make them easy, 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.
This information is used to improve services.
A cookie is a simple text file that is stored on your computer or mobile device by a website you visit. Only that website server will be able to access that cookie. Each cookie is unique to your web browser. It will contain some anonymous information such as a unique identifier and the site name and some digits and numbers. So if we put a cookie on your computer, it can't be read by any other website.
There are cookies that are set by us when you visit our websites ('first party cookies') and there are cookies set by other websites and services we use that provide information on the page you are viewing. These are 'third party cookies'.
Cookies can also be defined by the duration they last for on your computer or smart phone. They exist for either for the duration of your visit (a 'session cookie') or for repeated visits (a 'persistent cookie'), over a predefined time.
Are cookies harmful?
Cookies only contain text based data and do not contain viruses or executable programs that can be downloaded and run on your computer.
What to do if you don't want cookies to be set
Some people may be worried about websites keeping information on their computer, especially without their knowledge.
It is possible to block some or all cookies, or even to delete cookies that have already been set; but please note that you might lose some functionality of the website if you delete its cookies.
Blocking and deleting cookies
Check the settings in your web browser. Normally the 'Help' function in your browser should tell you how.
If you are using a mobile phone or other device to browse the web, details of how to manage cookies should be in the handbook or in the settings area.
Visit About cookies for further information about how to block or delete cookies on your computer.
If you have concerns or questions about cookies, and how we use them, contact the Corporate Web Team.