A cookie is a small file that is downloaded onto your device when you visit a website, which means the website can recognise your device if you return to it.

Cookies are used to:

  • recognise where you have already given your username and password, so you don’t need to do it for every visit
  • recognise your device so you don’t have to give the same information several times during the same online task
  • measure how you use the site so it can be updated and improved based on your needs
  • provide data to help understand how a website and it's services are used

Cookies cannot be used to identify you as an individual

How cookies are used on this site

Measuring how our site is used – Google Analytics

We use Google Analytics software to collect information about how you use this site. We do this to make sure the site is meeting the needs of our users and to help us improve it.

Every time you visit our site, Google Analytics software creates ‘anonymous analytics’ cookies. These cookies are used to tell us:

  • how many people are using our site and how long they are using it for
  • the different ways people have used to get to our site
Google analytics cookies from this website
 _utmaUsed to determine the number of unique visitors to the site2 years
 _utmbThis works with _utmc to calculate the average length of time you spend on our site30 minutes
 _utmcThis works with _utmb to calculate when you close your browser

When you close your browser

 _utmvThis provides information about how you reached our site (eg from another website or a search engine)2 years
 _utmzUsed to store variable data by visitor6 months


Further reading

All about Cookies

Information Commissioner's Office