Cookies are small pieces of data given to your browser by a website which may be stored as text files in the cookie directory of your computer. Cookies are not programs and cannot collect information from your computer. They do not damage your computer and are defined as "a piece of text stored on a user's computer by their web browser. A cookie can be used for authentication, storing site preferences, shopping cart contents, the identifier for a server-based session, or anything else that can be accomplished through storing text data" (source: Wikipedia, 2011).
Each website may send cookie data to your browser which may save it if your browser's preferences allow it to do so. To protect your privacy your browser only returns a cookie to the website that sent you the cookie and does not send it to any other website. A website cannot access your cookie directory or information on your computer, instead relevant cookies are included by your browser within each request you make to the website. A website can only obtain cookie data that your browser sends to it.
You do not have to accept cookies and you can change the settings within your browser to accept all cookies, reject all cookies, reject cookies from certain websites, notify you if a site is requesting to set a cookie, and set various other options.
Switching off cookies will still allow you to view the majority of content on our site, however, it will prevent you logging in and so accessing personalised information. It will also stop us remembering your login User ID if you ask us to do so, and may restrict your use of our interactive tools and of some services available through linked sites.